- - Wednesday, July 20, 2011

NIGERIA

Faction emerges from radical Muslim sect

MAIDUGURI — A Nigerian military official said the emergence of a breakaway group within a feared Muslim sect is a sign that the radical sect is weakening.

Joint Security Task Force spokesman Lt. Col. Hassan Mohammed said Wednesday that his officers had seen statements announcing that a faction had split from a sect locally known in Nigeria’s restive northeast as Boko Haram.

A group that calls itself the Yusuffiya Islamic Movement said in unverified statements that “people with evil motives have infiltrated our genuine struggle.”

Boko Haram, whose name means “Western education is sacrilege” in the local Hausa language, is responsible for a rash of killings targeting security officers, local leaders and clerics in the area in the last year.

SOUTH SUDAN

Peace minister resigns to make way for youth

KHARTOUM — South Sudan’s minister for peace has resigned to make way for the new generation but will remain secretary-general of the ruling party and chief negotiator with the north, his assistant said Wednesday.

Pagan Amum’s “resignation as minister of peace … has been accepted by the government. But his resignation as secretary general of the [Sudan People’s Liberation Movement] has been turned down,” Atif Keer, a senior staffer on the secretary-general’s team, told Agence France-Presse.

“He thought it was the right time to step aside and free the stage for the new generation.

“This is not a sign of weakness or defeat. He chose to do this when we had our moment of victory. … One of our weaknesses as individuals [is that] most of the people stay in their positions for a long time.”

South Sudan became a nation July 9. Corruption among politicians is one of the main challenges the fledgling nation faces.

MALAWI

One person killed during violent riots

BLANTYRE — One person was killed and several others were injured as demonstrations against the government turned violent across Malawi on Wednesday and police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at protesters, police said.

Malawians said they were protesting against persistent fuel and foreign exchange reserve shortages and bad governance.

Demonstrations took place in the commercial center of Blantyre, in the capital and in other major towns across the southern African country.

Protesters also looted several shops belonging to ruling party officials and allies of President Bingu wa Mutharika.

As protests became violent, police fired tear gas and rubber bullets at demonstrators.

A north regional police spokeswoman said a man had died, but she could not confirm if he had been killed by police. She said several others, including police officers, had been injured.

KENYA

Kenya torches 5 tons of ivory from poachers

MANYANI — Kenya’s president set fire to more than 5 tons of elephant ivory worth $16 million Wednesday, in an act meant to focus attention on a rising tide of poaching deaths.

The bright orange flame that raced through the fuel-laden pile jumped out and nearly bit President Mwai Kibaki as he lit the mound of 335 confiscated ivory tusks and 41,000 trinkets.

“Through the disposal of contraband ivory, we seek to formally demonstrate to the world our determination to eliminate all forms of illegal trade in ivory,” Mr. Kibaki told several hundred people at a rural Kenya Wildlife Service training facility in southeastern Kenya.

Kenyan officials first set fire to a mound of ivory in 1989, a desperate call to action to wake the world to a poaching crisis that sent Africa’s elephant populations plummeting.

Elephant numbers are much healthier today, but elephant advocates say a second elephant crisis is coming, as China’s middle class seeks to satisfy its ivory appetite.

From wire dispatches and staff reports