- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 1, 2010

KENYA

ICC to probe election violence

THE HAGUE | International judges said Wednesday the frenzy of killing and violence that erupted after Kenya’s disputed 2007 presidential elections may amount to crimes against humanity and authorized the court’s prosecutor to investigate.

Weeks of violence after President Mwai Kibaki was declared winner of Kenya’s December 2007 elections left more than 1,000 dead and forced 600,000 to flee their homes.

Prosecutor Luis Moreno Ocampo, who asked the International Criminal Court in November for clearance to investigate the clashes, urged Kenya’s leaders to work with him. He has submitted a confidential list of 20 names of those “who appear to bear the gravest responsibility.”

“President Kibaki’s and Prime Minister [Raila] Odinga’s commitment to justice and to cooperation with the ICC is crucial,” Mr. Moreno Ocampo said.

The court’s decision was welcomed by Hassan Omar Hassan of the Kenya National Commission of Human Rights, who said it is the first step toward combating impunity. “It is a victory for the victims of the postelection violence, especially the women and children,” Mr. Hassan said in Nairobi.

NIGERIA

Senate confirms new Cabinet

ABUJA | Nigeria’s Senate on Wednesday confirmed 38 new ministers proposed by acting President Goodluck Jonathan, including the country’s former junior oil minister and a senior Goldman Sachs executive.

The Senate approval will allow Mr. Jonathan to quickly assign portfolios and form his new Cabinet, a move his supporters hope will herald a more muscular period of government and ease political uncertainty in Africa’s most populous nation.

Mr. Jonathan fired the Cabinet two weeks ago in a bid to assert his authority a month after assuming executive powers in the absence of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, who was receiving medical treatment abroad and remains too sick to govern. The nominees confirmed so far include 13 returnees from the outgoing Cabinet.

SUDAN

Opposition mulls election boycott

KHARTOUM | Sudanese opposition parties threatened Wednesday to boycott their country’s first multiparty election in a quarter century, saying fair contests were not possible.

Over a dozen northern opposition parties were meeting Wednesday to consider the boycott after their calls for postponing the April 11 vote were ignored.

The opposition maintains that overwhelming government control of the media and election monitoring bodies as well as biased legislation make a fair vote impossible.

The junior partner in the governing coalition, the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Party, said it would back the opposition’s decision - throwing its relations with the president’s party into jeopardy.

The elections are a crucial step in the 2005 north-south peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war and paves the way for a referendum when southerners would decide whether they will opt for secession from the Muslim-dominated north.

Sudanese President Omar Bashir has threatened to cancel the south’s referendum if he is forced to cancel the election.

MAURITIUS

Prime minister dissolves parliament, calls elections

PORT LOUIS | Mauritius Prime Minister Navinchandra Ramgoolam dissolved parliament Wednesday and said the Indian Ocean island would hold elections on May 5.

The country, one of Africa’s most stable and prosperous nations, holds general elections every five years. By law, the country has between 30 and 150 days to organize elections after the prime minister dissolves parliament.

Analysts believe Mr. Ramgoolam, 62, will seek another term. He served as prime minister for five years from 1995 and won another five-year mandate through his Labor Party in the last elections held in 2005.

The leader of the winning party will automatically become prime minister.

UGANDA

Man confesses to burning royal tombs

KAMPALA | Ugandan police have arrested a men who confessed to setting fire to the tombs of five traditional kings in Uganda’s capital earlier this month, a police spokesman said.

The man, who blamed a vision that told him the tombs were satanic, turned himself in Tuesday.

The destruction of the Buganda kingdom tombs March 16 sparked riots in which security forces fatally shot three people. Buganda leader King Ronald Muwenda Mutebi II declared five days of mourning.

The riots echoed September violence when security agents clashed with Buganda members, leaving more than 20 dead. The government had prevented a royal representative from traveling to a region near the capital on “security grounds.” Many saw it as an insult to the king.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

National elections set for May

BANGUI | The president of Central African Republic has announced that elections in the world’s second poorest nation will be held May 16.

A decree read on national radio Tuesday said the election was being changed from April 25 because the international community said the vote could not be organized in time.

President Francois Bozize said that campaigning will run from May 3-14.

The mineral-rich country that borders Sudan’s troubled Darfur region has been plagued by military revolts and other uprisings since independence from France in 1960.

The top U.N. envoy to Central African Republic has said that the upcoming election and disarming of rebel groups are key to the country’s stability.

NIGERIA

Oil firm employee kidnapped in delta

LAGOS | Gunmen kidnapped a Nigerian working for French oil giant Total after he left his home early Wednesday morning in the country’s oil-rich delta long beset by violence, a police spokeswoman said.

The man’s kidnapping comes after a threat by the region’s main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, to target the French firm. However, MEND denied taking part in the kidnapping.

Militants in the delta have targeted oil workers for kidnapping in the past during their campaign to bring more oil money to a region that suffered environmental damage and economic neglect over 50 years of production. However, criminal gangs increasingly target wealthy Nigerians and politicians for kidnappings.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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