- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 14, 2010

GUINEA

Hurt junta leader travels to Burkina

OUAGADOUGOU, Burkina Faso | Guinea’s wounded junta leader is in Burkina Faso to recuperate after last month’s assassination attempt, the Foreign Affairs Ministry there said Wednesday. One of his top opponents said the surprise move could help him avoid prosecution.

Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara’s arrival from Morocco late Tuesday marked the first time he had been seen in public since being shot in the head by his presidential guard chief in December.

But the fact that Capt. Camara did not return to his native Guinea raised profound questions about how much influence he still wields — if any — over the junta and the West African nation he has led since seizing power in a December 2008 coup.

Early Wednesday, Capt. Camara’s No. 2 — Vice President Gen. Sekouba Konate — announced that he was flying immediately to Burkina Faso to see Capt. Camara.

Mamadou Bah Baadikko, who leads a top opposition party in Guinea, told the Associated Press that the U.S. has been stepping up pressure on Morocco to turn over Capt. Camara to a European country where he could more easily be jailed if The Hague-based International Criminal Court issues a warrant for his arrest for purported involvement in a September massacre of pro-democracy demonstrators.

Western diplomats have urged against Capt. Camara’s return to Guinea, fearing it could further destabilize the country.

NIGERIA

Court: Vice president can act for ailing leader

ABUJA | A Nigerian high court ruled Wednesday that Vice President Goodluck Jonathan can take executive powers in the absence of ailing President Umaru Yar’Adua, in hospital in Saudi Arabia since November.

Judge Dan Abutu, the chief judge of the Federal High Court in Abuja, gave the ruling in a case filed Monday by a lawyer, Christopher Onwuekwe, seeking the court’s interpretation of the constitution.

Mr. Yar’Adua’s absence since Nov. 23 has caused tension in Africa’s second-biggest oil exporter, with the opposition claiming government business has been stalled and that the nation’s democracy is facing its most serious threat in the 10 years since the end of military rule.

The court in Abuja is to hear three separate legal challenges to Mr. Yar’Adua on Thursday amid calls for him to stand down on grounds of frail health.

The 58-year-old president is being treated for a heart condition in Jidda. He broke a 50-day silence on Tuesday, telling the British Broadcasting Corp. in a telephone interview that he was “getting better” and intended to return to work.

NIGERIA

U.S. air marshals allowed on flights

ABUJA | Nigeria says it will allow armed U.S. air marshals on flights between the West African nation and the U.S. after the failed Christmas Day airliner bombing.

Aviation Minister Babtunde Omotoba said Wednesday the government will sign an agreement with the U.S. to allow the federal agents on airplane. He said Nigeria will ask the U.S. to train Nigerian security agents to serve a similar role on other air carriers.

The U.S. has placed Nigeria on a list of 14 countries where passengers must undergo stricter security screening before boarding any U.S.-bound flight. The Nigerian man accused of trying to blow up the Detroit-bound plane on Christmas Day began his journey at Nigeria’s largest airport.

SOMALIA

7 children among 10 killed in shelling

MOGADISHU | Seven children were among 10 people killed in shelling by Somali government forces in Mogadishu on Wednesday as the troops backed by African Union peacekeepers fired mortars into districts held by Islamist insurgents.

The children were struck by shells while playing football in the capital’s southern Wardhigley neighborhood, witnesses and medical officials said.

Two other civilians died of their wounds in the city’s Medina hospital where 13 people were taken for treatment, the hospital’s director Mohamed Yusuf Hasan told Agence France-Presse, while another civilian was killed by a stray bullet.

The shelling was in retaliation for an attack by the hard-line Islamists who had fired shells at the bases of the AU and government forces, a Somali government security official said.

The al Qaeda-inspired al-Shabab militants and their Hezb al-Islam allies vowed to topple the internationally backed government of President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed when they launched a deadly onslaught last May.

SUDAN

Darfur rebels claim attack on town

KHARTOUM | Darfur rebels said they attacked a government-held town in the Jabel Marra area of western Sudan on Wednesday in retaliation for army bombardment of their areas, a move likely to hinder peace talks set to open this month.

Tensions were already high in oil-producing Sudan which is gearing up for presidential, parliamentary and state governor elections in April.

The Sudan Liberation Army loyal to founder Abdel Wahed Mohamed el-Nur said it attacked Golo in Jabel Marra in retaliation for government bombings of rebel-controlled areas there and in the Jabel Moun area on the border with Chad.

The joint U.N.-African union peacekeeping mission in Darfur known as UNAMID, does not have troops in the area but said aid workers caught in the crossfire had sought refuge in its compound.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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