- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 7, 2010

NIGERIA

Minister: U.S. air rule threatens ties

ABUJA | Bilateral relations between Nigeria and the United States could be at risk if Washington keeps its requirement for tighter security for Nigerian travelers, a government minister said on Wednesday.

The procedures, which took effect Monday, come in the wake of a botched Christmas Day bombing attempt on a U.S. airliner blamed on Nigerian Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab.

“Nigeria expresses its disappointment and concern of the undeserved placement of Nigeria on the countries of interest list and views this action as having the potential of undermining long-standing and established U.S.-Nigeria bilateral ties,” said Information Minister Dora Akunyili.

She did not elaborate on what could be at risk.

The U.S. is by far Nigeria’s largest trade partner, accounting for nearly 45 percent of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries member’s exports, mainly crude oil, according to the International Monetary Fund.

Nigeria’s light crude grades are especially popular in the U.S. and Europe because they are easily refined into fuel products.

CHAD

Sanctions lifted on newspaper

NDJAMENA | A Chadian court on Wednesday lifted sanctions against the weekly La Voix newspaper a month after it was seized and shut down by the authorities, a judicial source said.

The court in Ndjamena ruled the paper’s management “not guilty” of breaking administrative rules, overturning a Dec. 3 decision that ordered the seizure of all the newspaper’s publications.

First launched in May, the privately owned La Voix employs about 10 people and has a circulation of about 2,000.

In December, its director Innocent Ebode, a Cameroonian national, and his accountant, Amadou Bouba Gong-Daba, were separately abducted and beaten up by unidentified men, according to their own accounts to Agence France-Presse.

SENEGAL

‘Renaissance woman’ faces cover-up

DAKAR | The skimpily dressed female figure in Senegal’s giant monument to the “African Renaissance” faces a possible cover-up after the architect on Monday said he had proposed a remodeling to cover up her bare legs.

The giant group of man, woman and infant perched on a hill overlooking the capital Dakar is bigger than New York’s Statue of Liberty and is due to be inaugurated in April.

But the pet project of President Abdoulaye Wade has been mired in controversy and condemned by religious leaders in the overwhelmingly Muslim country as un-Islamic for presenting the human form as an object of worship.

“Our problem is with the woman’s bare legs,” architect and Wade adviser Pierre Goudiaby Atepa told Reuters by telephone, referring to the thigh-length hemline of the female figure’s tunic.

“Right from the start, President Wade pointed out the bare legs and asked if we couldn’t put it right. I’ve given him an estimate for doing that and it’s up to him to decide,” he said.

MADAGASCAR

Tear gas used on protesters

ANTANANARIVO | Security forces have used tear gas to disperse protesters in Madagascar’s capital near the presidential palace.

The demonstrators, who are aligned with three of the country’s previous presidents, went to present the country’s military-backed leader with a letter Wednesday.

Andry Rajoelina seized power on the Indian Ocean island last year. He recently declared that an internationally mediated agreement to create a transitional coalition was null and void, and says he will hold elections in March.

The protesters’ letter questions whether or not Mr. Rajoelina still wants reconciliation.

The African Union has suspended Madagascar until it holds fair and transparent elections.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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