- - Wednesday, June 23, 2010

SWAZILAND

New study shows mounting AIDS toll

MBABANE | Swaziland’s death rate more than doubled in a decade, which is proof of the toll of AIDS, statisticians in this southern African kingdom said Wednesday.

Nombulelo Dlamini of the Central Statistical Office discussed a new study comparing censuses in 1997 and 2007 in an interview. The study shows that in 1997, the death rate was 7.6 people in 1,000. By 2007, it was 18.03 per 1,000 people. Life expectancy over the period decreased from 60 to 43 years.

Infant and under-5 mortality death rates also increased during the 10-year period. About 107 in 1,000 babies die in their first year, according to the 2007 census. In 1997 it was 78. Among children under 5, the death rate was about 167 in 1,000 in 2007, compared with 106 in 1997.

EGYPT

Militant leader gets death sentence

CAIRO | A top Egyptian militant leader was sentenced to death Wednesday for killing two police commanders and organizing bomb attacks against security officials and tourists in the 1990s.

Abdel Hamid Musa Abu Aqrab, who headed the military wing of Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya group, was charged with the premeditated murder of two police commanders who were shot in 1992 and 1993.

State authorities fought gunbattles to put down an organized Islamist uprising in the 1990s. Al-Gama’a Al-Islamiya, one of the militant groups, targeted ministers, police and tourists.

The group also was blamed for a failed 1995 assassination attempt on President Hosni Mubarak in Addis Ababa.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

U.N. chief to attend Congo’s anniversary

KINSHASA | U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is to take part in celebrations at the end of June marking the 50th anniversary of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s independence, his special envoy in Kinshasa said Wednesday.

Mr. Ban is expected to arrive in the country, where 20,000 U.N. peacekeepers are deployed, on the eve of June 30 festivities that President Joseph Kabila and Belgian King Albert II also are to attend.

“We are very closely linked to the DR Congo. The secretary-general would like to mark these links,” which go back to the 1960s when a first U.N. mission was deployed to the former Belgian Congo, envoy Alan Doss said.

Late last month, the U.N. Security Council agreed to withdraw about 2,000 peacekeepers from the Congo, but put off a decision on Kinshasa’s request that all troops leave by 2011.

SOUTH AFRICA

2 cleared in attack on Rwandan exile

JOHANNESBURG | Police have dropped attempted murder charges against two people who were arrested after a former Rwandan general living in exile in South Africa was shot over the weekend, authorities said Wednesday.

Police spokesman Govindsamy Mariemuthoo said the four remaining suspects will appear at another court hearing June 29, but would give no further information.

Lt. Gen. Kayumba Nyamwasa and his wife were returning to the upscale gated community where they live in northern Johannesburg when a lone gunman fired on him Saturday. He was shot in the stomach and is expected to recover.

Gen. Nyamwasa’s wife has accused Rwandan President Paul Kagame in the shooting, a charge the Rwandan government denies.

Gen. Nyamwasa and Mr. Kagame were once allied but have fallen out, reportedly because Mr. Kagame sees his former military chief as a political rival. Gen. Nyamwasa came to South Africa earlier this year.

MAURITANIA

Death penalty abounds in crime crackdown

NOUAKCHOTT | A court has meted out 10 death sentences for murder as alarm grows at the rising crime rate in the Mauritanian capital, a judicial source said Wednesday.

The sentences on Monday and Tuesday were pronounced against three Mauritanians and six foreigners for four different murders committed in 2008, the source said.

The death penalty has not been applied in Mauritania since 1987, but local residents are worried by a rise in violent crime in a city that was considered particularly peaceful until recently.

NIGERIA

New elections chief sees obstacles to free vote

ABUJA | Nigeria’s new elections chief said Wednesday the country faces tremendous challenges implementing reforms in time for elections in April and said establishing accurate voter lists is a vital first step.

An electoral roll riddled with fictitious names and omitting legitimate voters was among the many problems of Nigeria’s last elections in 2007, elections so marred by ballot stuffing and voter intimidation that observers deemed them not credible.

President Goodluck Jonathan, who took over as head of state last month after the death of late President Umaru Yar’Adua, has made avoiding a repeat of the 2007 fiasco his top priority.

“We know the challenges are tremendous in terms of ensuring that we bring free and fair and credible elections,” Attahiru Jega, the incoming head of the national electoral commission, told the Senate at his confirmation hearings. “I am certainly aware the credibility of the elections come 2011 will to a large extent be predicated on the credibility of the voter register.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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