- - Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ANGOLA

U.S. ship carrying food detained in Angola

JOHANNESBURG | A U.S.-flagged cargo ship and its load of American food aid for Africa has been delayed for weeks in Angola because of questions about ammunition for Kenya it also was carrying, the U.S. said Wednesday.

Adele Gillen, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Luanda, said U.S. officials had met repeatedly with Angolan officials since the Maersk Constellation and its 23 crew members were detained Feb. 28 at a port.

She said the U.S. is concerned about the well-being of the crew aboard the ship, 20 of whom are American, and about the delay in the shipment of corn, beans and other food for Rwanda, Malawi and Mozambique.

NIGERIA

President takes campaign to north

KANO | From Islamic police enforcing a ban on beer and prostitution to its centuries-old market and mosques, Nigeria’s northern city of Kano feels like a different country than the pulsating southern sprawl of Lagos.

Its low-rise buildings and dusty tree-lined streets have more in common with the sleepy Sahelian cities of Niger or Chad than with Nigeria’s commercial hub, a city built on hustle and home to some of Africa’s largest companies and richest tycoons.

Securing support in this ancient city - the second most populous after Lagos - and other parts of Nigeria’s Muslim north will be key if President Goodluck Jonathan, a southerner, is to clinch victory in the first round of elections next month.

As the incumbent, Mr. Jonathan is considered the front-runner, but his main rival, Muslim ex-military ruler Muhammadu Buhari, has strong grassroots support in the north and the opposition is hoping to force a run-off.

MAURITANIA

Man gets death sentence for killing U.S. aid worker

NOUAKCHOTT | A Mauritanian court sentenced one man to death and jailed two others for the 2009 murder of an American aid worker, a killing claimed by Islamist fighters operating in Africa’s Sahara zones.

The trio - alleged members of Al Qaeda’s North African wing - were on trial in the slaying of Christopher Leggett, who worked for a charity and was head of a language school when he was killed in the capital.

Mauritania is one of a string of West African nations bordering the Sahara Desert that have been increasingly targeted by Islamists.

On Tuesday, the court handed Mohamed Abdallahi Ould Ahmednah the death penalty for murdering the 39-year-old American.

Sidi Mohamed Ould Bezeid was jailed for 12 years, and Mahmoud Ould Khouna for three years, both for complicity.

All three also were convicted of belonging to a terrorist organization and having “attacked Mauritania.”

ZIMBABWE

Police crackdown imperils fragile coalition

HARARE | The arrests of Zimbabweans gathered to discuss what they could learn from uprisings in North Africa drew international condemnation.

They turned out to be just the start of harassment of people whom hard-line supporters of longtime ruler Robert Mugabe consider enemies.

A key aide to Morgan Tsvangirai - Mr. Mugabe’s rival and partner in an uneasy coalition - was arrested on corruption charges. The offices of Mr. Tsvangirai’s party have been raided and members arrested.

An independent civic group leader was detained for several hours last weekend for possessing T-shirts that police said were intended to incite opposition to Mr. Mugabe’s authoritarian rule.

Mr. Tsvangirai threatened last week to leave the coalition, and some are wondering how much more he can take. Bringing down the coalition could mean elections for which Mr. Tsvangirai’s party and international observers say Zimbabwe is not ready.

John Makumbe, a political scientist at Zimbabwe’s main university, said Mr. Mugabe and his ZANU-PF party want Mr. Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change to quit the fragile 2-year-old coalition. That way, they could return to one-party control - and place the blame on Mr. Tsvangirai.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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