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ETHIOPIA

2 Swedish reporters convicted of aiding terrorists

ADDIS ABABA | An Ethiopian court convicted two Swedish journalists Wednesday of supporting terrorism after the pair illegally entered the country with an ethnic Somali rebel group.

The pair, who now face up to 15 years in prison at their sentencing next week, have said they were gathering news at the time of their arrest.

However, Judge Shemsu Sirgaga said that was “very unlikely” and accused the Ogaden National Liberation Front of organizing the Swedes’ journey starting in London via Kenya and Somalia into Ethiopia.

Outlawed groups in many countries frequently facilitate the travels of reporters in order to have their versions of events told.

Ethiopian troops captured Johan Persson and Martin Schibbye six months ago during a clash with rebels in Ethiopia’s restive Somali region in the country’s east, a no-go area for reporters.

Ethiopia considers the rebel group a terrorist organization, and it is difficult for journalists to gain access to the region.

SOUTH SUDAN

Rebels vow to fight on after death of leader

JUBA | South Sudanese rebels will continue their fight against the newly independent government in Juba despite the killing of their leader George Athor, his spokesman said Wednesday.

“To me, the mission is alive,” James Puot told Agence France-Presse. “Only one man has died.”

South Sudanese Vice President Riek Machar announced Tuesday that Gen. Athor was killed when a border patrol clashed with “elements” accompanying him in Morobo County on Monday.

Gen. Athor had sneaked back into South Sudan through neighboring countries and was on a recruiting drive in Central Equatoria state, Mr. Machar said.

South Sudan had accused Gen. Athor of acting on behalf of Sudan in a bid to destabilize the country, which won independence in July, five years after the end of a two-decade civil war with Khartoum.

GABON

President’s party claims majority in elections

LIBREVILLE | President Ali Bongo’s Gabonese Democratic Party (PDG) claimed Sunday to have won the absolute majority in general elections that were boycotted by many opposition groups and voters.

The party had won at least 73 of the 120 seats in parliament, and its final tally was expected go higher, said a PDG source close to the Interior Ministry.

Official results are expected “probably Thursday,” according to the electoral commission.

In all, 13 opposition groups urged supporters not to vote.

They wanted the government to implement biometric voter security measures, such as fingerprinting, as a way of preventing fraud.

Official turnout numbers were not available, but election officials in the northern town of Medouneu, an opposition bastion, said the participation rate at several polling stations hovered between 10 percent and 40 percent.

MALI

Algerian troops arrive to help combat al Qaeda

BAMAKO | Algerian troops have crossed into Mali to help government forces combat groups affiliated with al Qaeda, officials and witnesses told Agence France-Presse.

“Algerian troops are currently stationed in northern Mali to assist the Malian army in the fight against terrorism,” a high-ranking military official said.

He would not divulge the number of Algerian troops based in Mali or the expected length of their stay.

“We know there is a team of instructors of at least 15, including officers,” a diplomatic source said, also on the condition of anonymity.

Customs officials told Agence France-Presse that they saw a convoy carrying Algerian military between the northern towns of Kidal and Tessalit, near the Algerian border.

Al Qaeda-linked groups have been active in Algeria, Mali, Niger and Mauritania for a decade, but their activity has picked up since the fall of Moammar Gadhafi scattered the slain Libyan strongman’s arsenal across the region.

Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and a splinter group that surfaced this month - the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa - are holding 12 European hostages.

SOUTH AFRICA

Suspended youth leader wins provincial post

JOHANNESBURG | Julius Malema, the suspended youth leader of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), was elected Tuesday to a senior party post by members in his home province of Limpopo.

In a result that gives him a new platform from which to pursue his political ambitions, the ANC youth league president was voted onto the provincial executive committee in Limpopo, which has long been Mr. Malema’s power base.

Days earlier, ANC members in Limpopo re-elected provincial premier Cassel Mathale as their local leader, beating the candidate supported by South African President Jacob Zuma.

Mr. Malema, 30, was handed a five-year suspension by the ANC in November for bringing the party into disrepute, but he technically remains the youth league president until an appeal is heard next week.

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