- The Washington Times - Friday, August 6, 2010

KENYA

Kenyans approve new constitution

NAIROBI | Kenyans passed a new constitution in a peaceful referendum that could reshape the political landscape of East Africa’s largest economy, official results showed on Thursday.

Greater checks on presidential powers were among changes voted through in Wednesday’s referendum, which came two years after allegations over vote-rigging in a presidential election ignited violence that killed 1,300 people.

The new legal framework addresses the corruption, political patronage, land-grabbing and tribalism that have plagued Kenya since it won independence from Britain in 1963.

The referendum win could help Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s presidential bid in the next elections in 2012, analysts said. President Mwai Kibaki cannot run again, as he has already served two terms.

MEXICO

Court upholds gay-marriage law

MEXICO CITY | The Mexican Supreme Court ruled Thursday that a fledgling law allowing same-sex marriages in Mexico City is constitutional, rejecting an appeal by federal prosecutors who argued that it violated the charter’s guarantees to protect the family.

The justices have not yet determined the scope of their 8-2 ruling, however, saying they still need to decide whether it will affect states outside of the capital.

NETHERLANDS

Supermodel denies getting blood diamonds

LEIDSCHENDAM | Fashion icon Naomi Campbell countered charges that former Liberian ruler Charles Taylor gave her a fistful of diamonds as a flirtatious gift, telling his war crimes trial Thursday that a pouch of “very small, dirty-looking stones” was delivered to her room in the dark of night.

The famously petulant supermodel’s testimony did not provide the smoking gun prosecutors had sought to show Mr. Taylor traded in so-called “blood diamonds” to arm rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone.

But her appearance drew attention to Africa’s deadly conflicts and the illegal use of resources to finance war.

Prosecutors had hoped Miss Campbell would testify that Mr. Taylor gave her the diamonds, which would back up their charges he traded guns to rebels in neighboring Sierra Leone in exchange for uncut diamonds - known as “blood diamonds” for their role in financing conflicts - during the country’s 1992-2002 civil war, which left more than 100,000 dead.

It would also have undermined Mr. Taylor’s credibility, since he has denied ever trading in diamonds.

ISRAEL

Train crash kills 7 in minibus

JERUSALEM | Seven members of one family, including a pregnant woman and two children, were killed when the minibus they were traveling in ignored traffic signals and crossed the tracks right into the path of a speeding train, rescue services said.

No one on the train was hurt. The driver of the minibus was lightly injured and one other passenger was injured when the vehicle was hurled 20 yards from the tracks, rescue services said.

TURKEY

Soldier, six rebels killed in clashes

ANKARA | A Turkish soldier and six Kurdish rebels were killed Thursday in fresh fighting in the country’s east and southeast, Anatolia news agency reported.

Police also seized explosives in a car near Diyarbakir, the regional capital of the mainly Kurdish southeast, and detained two suspected militants from the Kurdistan Workers’ Party, media reports said.

The fresh clashes come amid an escalation in rebel attacks since late May in their 26-year violent campaign for self-rule.

Three Kurdish rebels, including a woman, were killed in a security sweep in a mountainous area in Hakkari province, which borders Iraq and Iran, a regional governor told Anatolia.

In the eastern city of Van, Kurdish rebels fired on the local governor’s office, sparking a clash with police that left three militants dead.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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