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Briefly: Africa

- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2011

SOUTH AFRICA

Rights groups challenge Rwandan's asylum

PRETORIA — Refugee rights groups want a court to strip a Rwandan general of asylum status in South Africa, saying he has been linked to mass human rights abuses in East Africa.

In a statement issued this week after filing the suit against the South African government earlier this month, Nicole Fritz of the Southern African Litigation Center said the case of Gen. Faustin Kayumba Nyamwasa could "send a signal to war criminals the world over that they will find a safe haven here. Indeed, a haven where they might be actively protected as refugees."

The Southern African Litigation Center and the Consortium of Refugees and Migrant Rights South Africa filed the suit.

A Nyamwasa spokesman said Wednesday the general denies involvement in human rights violations and fears the refugee group's suit will distract attention from an upcoming trial that Rwandan dissidents hope will focus on their president's activities.

Since coming to South Africa in early 2010, Gen. Nyamwasa has been a sharp critic of Rwandan President Paul Kagame. Gen. Nyamwasa was shot and wounded in Johannesburg last year, and dissidents accuse Mr. Kagame of involvement in what they call an assassination attempt.

Mr. Kagame's government has denied involvement in the shooting and accuses Gen. Nyamwasa of trying to destabilize Rwanda.

SWAZILAND

AIDS-hit Swaziland sees reasons for hope

MBABANE — A Swaziland AIDS activist says slight improvements in life expectancy and infant survival are reasons for hope in the country with the world's highest percentage of people living with HIV.

Sipho Dlamini, programs director for the Swaziland National Network of People Living With HIV and AIDS, spoke Wednesday about the release earlier this month of the government's latest population projections.

Mr. Dlamini said Swaziland is making progress.

Government statisticians say life expectancy by 2030 will be 47, from 45 years in 2007. Infant mortality is expected to decline from about 100 for every 1,000 live births in 2007 to about 92 in 2030.

More than a quarter of Swazis between the ages of 15 and 49 are thought to carry the virus that causes AIDS.

SOUTH AFRICA

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.

MADAGASCAR

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.

SOUTH AFRICA

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.

The official, Mkuseli Apleni, said the passport found with terror suspect Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is a copy of the easily forged passport South Africa no longer produces but many South Africans still carry.

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