- - Friday, May 20, 2011

ZIMBABWE

Mugabe denies reports of illness, frailty

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s 87-year-old president scoffed at speculation over his health as “misplaced” and said Thursday that he and his wife are fitness enthusiasts.

Robert Mugabe also dismissed reports that his wife, Grace, his former secretary who is half his age, was also ill. He told state media that they were both in “sound health.”

In excerpts of an interview published Thursday by the state Herald newspaper, he said he exercises regularly and had only an eye cataract operation recently in Singapore. His wife was undergoing physiotherapy in China for a dislocated hip that may have been made worse by exercise, he said.

South Africa’s ruling party reported Tuesday that health problems facing Mr. Mugabe could jeopardize efforts to resolve the political crisis in Zimbabwe.

LIBYA

FIGHTING, NATO STRIKES GO ON; WITHDRAWAL OFFER REPORTED

BENGHAZI — Moammar Gadhafi’s forces hit rebel fighters with rockets Thursday in the formidable strongholds and training camps they have built up in the strategic mountain heights southwest of the Libyan capital, rebels said.

The two sides appeared to be fighting for control of the two highways to the north and south of Nafusa Mountain Range, which slices across the desert south of Tripoli to the western border of Tunisia.

NATO airstrikes resumed overnight, with an alliance official in Brussels saying early Friday that eight Libyan warships were sunk in coordinated attacks on the ports of Tripoli, Al Khums and Sirte.

Libyan government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim told reporters at a late-night news conference that an envoy had given Russian leaders a “new offer” to “go as far as withdrawing our army from all Libyan cities and population centers” if the rebels do the same. There was no immediate comment by rebel leaders based in Benghazi.

Mr. Ibrahim also denied reports that Col. Moammar Kadhafi’s wife and daughter had fled to Tunisia and that oil minister Shukri Ghanem had defected.

EGYPT

MILITARY SETS ELECTIONS FOR PARLIAMENT BEFORE PRESIDENT

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