- The Washington Times - Monday, July 19, 2010

SURINAME

Ex-dictator Bouterse chosen president

PARAMARIBO | Former dictator Desi Bouterse was elected president by parliament Monday, following weeks of jostling by opponents who sought to stop a convicted drug trafficker and ex-strongman accused of killing political opponents from returning to power.

His eyes brimming with tears, Mr. Bouterse thanked supporters outside parliament after he secured 36 votes in support of his presidency, thanks to a small party’s decision to back him in exchange for three Cabinet positions.

“I reach out my hand to everyone who feels that they are adversaries and ask them to leave the past behind so we can build this country together,” Mr. Bouterse told the cheering, flag-waving crowd.

Suriname’s president is not chosen directly by voters, but by legislators. A two-thirds majority in the 51-seat parliament is required to elect the president of Suriname, a South American country where the official language is Dutch but most people speak Sranan. Mr. Bouterse’s Mega Combination faction won 23 seats in May elections.

Some Surinamese who did not support the former military dictator’s return to power said Mr. Bouterse will at least have the benefit of experience.

CANADA

Government sends aid to Chad, Niger

MONTREAL | Canada said Monday it would be sending $6.5 million to provide “vital food assistance” for more than 6 million people in Niger and Chad.

The situation in the sub-Saharan nations “is reaching a crisis level, and the poorest in those countries are the most vulnerable,” Minister of International Cooperation Beverly Oda said in a statement.

The funds are required to help meet the “vital food-assistance needs of more than 6 million people,” including “thousands of pregnant women, mothers, as well as acutely malnourished children under five years of age,” she said.

The aid will be channeled through the World Food Program and the nongovernmental organization Save the Children Canada.

The aid is in addition to the nearly $1.8 million that Canada has provided to Niger this year, and some $6.9 million to Chad to assist refugees fleeing the border area of Sudan’s strife-torn Darfur region.

CUBA

Diplomats to meet dissidents’ wives

HAVANA | The U.S. diplomatic mission in Cuba has convened a meeting with relatives of political prisoners who are refusing an offer to leave and emigrate to Spain, wives of the jailed dissidents told Agence France-Presse.

Representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and the Spanish Embassy were also to attend the 1 p.m. meeting with officials from U.S. consular services and the mission’s refugee section, they said.

“All we know is that they have invited a representative of each prisoner who has not been contacted by the church or who have refused to travel to Spain,” said Laura Pollan, the head of the Ladies in White, a group of wives of political prisoners.

So far, 11 political prisoners have emigrated to Spain and nine others were expected to arrive in Madrid this week.

MEXICO

Peruvian detained with 18 monkeys

MEXICO CITY | Customs officials at Mexico City’s airport on Monday detained a Peruvian man carrying 18 baby monkeys, including two which had died, hidden under his clothes, federal police said.

“The Titi monkeys were found hidden in a band tied around the man’s body,” a statement said.

The discovery was made when the 38-year-old man appeared edgy during random checks on passengers off a flight from Lima, Peru, it said.

Titi monkeys - found in Central and South America - are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.

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