- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 2, 2009

ZIMBABWE

Tsvangirai ally faces terror trial

HARARE | A senior official in Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s party will stand trial in Zimbabwe in October on terrorism charges, his lawyer said Wednesday.

The case against Roy Bennett has deepened divisions in the fragile unity government formed in February between President Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party and Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change to end a long-running political crisis and a decade of economic ruin.

Mr. Bennett, the MDC’s treasurer-general, has been nominated as deputy agriculture minister and is among only a few remaining white founding members of the party.

The former coffee grower was arrested in February and accused of plotting against the Mugabe government. He will go on trial in the eastern city of Mutare, charged with illegal possession of arms for purposes of terrorism and banditry.

He faces life in jail if convicted. He denies the charges.

“They (prosecutors) have set 13 Oct. as the trial date, but they also relaxed his bail conditions. He will report to the police twice a month instead of once every week,” Mr. Bennett’s lawyer Trust Maanda said.

SOMALIA

Ethiopia denies troops to Somalia

ADDIS ABABA | Ethiopia on Wednesday said it will not send troops to Somalia, though a hard-line Islamist militia fighting to topple the Somali government recently threatened to invade the neighboring country.

“No matter what has been said, our position is that we are not entering Somalia at this point,” government spokesman Bereket Simon said.

He nonetheless termed this week’s threat by the hard-line Shebab fighters as “an open declaration of war,” and said Addis Ababa was closely monitoring events in the war-ravaged neighboring state.

Ethiopian troops rolled into Somalia in late 2006 to buttress an embattled government but withdrew earlier this year.

Somali residents have recently reported seeing truckloads of Ethiopian troops around the country’s central regions, but Ethiopian officials have repeatedly denied those claims.

RWANDA

Switzerland refuses to extradite suspect

NAIROBI | Switzerland said Wednesday it had refused a request to extradite a Rwandan national wanted in his own country for purported genocide and war crimes, a statement said Wednesday.

“An extradition to Rwanda is impossible because of the situation in the state regarding human rights and because the suspicions put forward to support the request for extradition are not sufficiently backed up,” the Swiss government said in a statement to Agence France-Presse.

Sources said the suspect was a Rwandan government minister at the time of the 1994 genocide.

ETHIOPIA

3 die as police stop church construction

ADDIS ABABA | Ethiopian police fatally shot two people and injured six others as they blocked an attempt by Christians to build a church at a site also claimed by Muslims, a government spokesman said Wednesday.

Orthodox Christians attacked police Tuesday in Dessie, 155 miles northeast of Addis Ababa, when the forces tried to stop the construction.

“They stormed the place and then they started bringing materials to continue building the church unlawfully,” spokesman Bereket Simon said.

“Unfortunately, three lives have been claimed. Two of them were killed by bullets; one of them fell off a cliff.”

GUINEA-BISSAU

EU says vote ‘transparent’

BISSAU | A presidential election in Guinea-Bissau to replace slain head of state Joao Bernardo Vieira was “free and transparent,” observers from the European Union announced Wednesday.

In their report, they said Sunday’s poll in the small West African nation was “well-organized, peaceful, free and transparent. No irregularities or major incidents were noted.”

Mr. Vieira, who held power for 23 years, was assassinated by members of the army March 2, apparently in revenge for a bomb attack that claimed the life of the army chief, Gen. Batista Tagme Na Waie.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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