Briefly: Africa

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Mandela charity ex-chief not guilty in diamond case

JOHANNESBURG — A prominent South African businessman to whom supermodel Naomi Campbell testified she gave gems was found not guilty Wednesday in a “blood diamonds” case.

Jeremy Ractliffe, former chief executive of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, had been charged with violating laws against possessing uncut diamonds.

It is illegal in South Africa to possess a rough diamond because of its possible links to funding fighters in African civil wars, money laundering and other crimes.


Ex-leader vows return despite army opposition

JOHANNESBURG — Madagascar’s exiled former president vowed Wednesday to return to the island despite the army and police stating that they would block his homecoming on security grounds.

“I am coming back, unconditionally, to wage peace, to choose democracy over tyranny and to help start real Malagasy-Malgache dialogue, to ensure that no one can ever again, unilaterally and violently, seize power in Madagascar,” Marc Ravalomanana said in a statement.

The ousted president has been in exile in South Africa since stepping down amid violent street protests in March 2009 and handing power to the military, which promptly ceded it to current strongman Andry Rajoelina.


Experts warn corruption helps terrorists

PRETORIA — When an alleged mastermind of al Qaeda attacks on U.S. embassies was killed in East Africa, officials said he was carrying a fake South African passport - refocusing attention on warnings that corruption in South Africa is being exploited by terrorists.

Security experts have been warning for years that corruption in South Africa is enabling terrorists to get documents to hide their identities and make it easier to travel.

The top civil servant responsible for issuing South African passports told reporters Wednesday there have been improvements but said more needs to be done.

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