- - Wednesday, August 10, 2011

SOUTH AFRICA

‘Erosion of democracy’ seen throughout region

JOHANNESBURG | Southern Africa is facing an “erosion of democracy” caused in part by a failure of regional leaders to live up to their own agreements on the rule of law, civil society groups warned Wednesday.

The 15-nation Southern African Development Community is faced with a growing number of regional “problem cases” and must enforce its own commitments on human rights and democracy at a summit next week in Angola, said a coalition of religious groups, unions and nonprofit organizations.

“We note with deep concern the deteriorating political situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Madagascar, Malawi, Swaziland and Zimbabwe,” Malcolm Damon, head of the Fellowship of Christian Councils in Southern Africa, told journalists in Johannesburg.

He said all five countries were plagued by “continued harassment and killings of human rights defenders, denial of citizens’ right to participate in the political process, violence, as well as increasing human insecurity.”

SUDAN

China gets lucrative oil exploration license

KHARTOUM | Sudan has granted a petroleum exploration license to China, Foreign Minister Ali Ahmed Karti said Wednesday after his visiting Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi and President Omar Bashir held talks in Khartoum.

He said Mr. Bashir also ordered that facilities be made available to Chinese firms operating in neighboring Chad, the Central African Republic and South Sudan to transport equipment via Sudanese territory.

Mr. Yang ended a two-day visit to Khartoum before heading on Tuesday for Juba, the capital of South Sudan, in the first trip by a senior Chinese official to the world’s newest nation.

China is also a major military supplier to the Khartoum regime, as well as one of the largest foreign investors and the biggest buyers of Sudanese oil.

Mr. Bashir is under a world court indictment in connection with genocide in Darfur.

SOUTH SUDAN

U.S. envoy fears Kordofan violence will spread

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