- - Wednesday, May 25, 2011

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

Ugandan rebels continue central Africa attacks

DUNGU | A coalition of nearly 40 human rights groups this week called on the United States to step up efforts to fight against a brutal Ugandan-led rebel group that has intensified its attacks in central Africa, especially in Congo’s volatile northeast.

The groups, which include New York-based Human Rights Watch, said in a statement that the White House should appoint a special envoy for the African Great Lakes region.

That envoy, they said, should have a mandate that extends to areas where the Lord’s Resistance Army is most active, “to support stronger United Nations peacekeeping and to intensify efforts to arrest” LRA leaders sought by the International Criminal Court.

Last May, the Obama administration signed into law an act that commits the United States to helping civilians threatened by the LRA.

The LRA, which originated in Uganda, is known for viciously attacking and torturing civilians and for abducting children and forcing them to fight for the rebels.

Since 2008, the LRA has killed nearly 2,400 civilians and abducted about 3,400 others.

SUDAN

190 troops killed, missing in Abyei attack

JUBA | Seventy northern Sudanese troops were killed and more than 120 are missing from an attack last week by southern Sudanese forces near the disputed region of Abyei, a Sudanese diplomat said.

The death toll, if verified, would mark one of the bloodiest clashes since the end of Sudan’s civil war. A U.N. spokesman said he believed the casualty numbers were much smaller.

The south voted to secede from Sudan earlier this year, but the future of the 4,000-square-mile Abyei region near the north-south border was left in doubt.

The fighting that began last Thursday threatens to unravel a 2005 peace deal and reignite a civil war that left more than 2 million people dead.

According to the United Nations, southern troops started the clash last week by attacking a column of northern troops and U.N. peacekeepers who were moving away from Abyei.

SOUTH AFRICA

Zuma plans exit strategy for Libyan leader

PRETORIA | South African President Jacob Zuma will visit Tripoli next week for talks that officials said will focus on an “exit strategy” for Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.

The talks will focus on a way for Col. Gadhafi to leave office and end a vicious civil war, according to presidential aides.

“The meeting is still very much in the planning stages,” one source said.

Another aide said South Africa is working with Turkey on the exit plan.

ZIMBABWE

Group accuses Mugabe of ‘stranglehold’ on broadcasts

HARARE | An independent media freedom group Wednesday accused the political party of President Robert Mugabe of keeping a “stranglehold” on broadcasting in the southern African nation.

The Media Institute of Southern Africa said Zimbabwe has just one broadcast station airing on four radio wavelengths and two television channels. It lags far behind other African countries in opening its airwaves to crucial free expression. The group made the statement on Africa Freedom Day.

The group said independent broadcasting mushroomed throughout Africa while Zimbabwe’s electronic media “stagnated” under Mr. Mugabe’s control as a propaganda tool for his party, the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

NIGERIA

Pipeline fire rages in oil-rich southern delta

LAGOS | Police said Wednesday that emergency workers are trying to put out a pipeline fire in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta.

Delta state police spokesman Charles Muka said the fire engulfed a pipeline belonging to a subsidiary of the state-owned oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. He said casualty figures were not yet available for the blaze, which started early Tuesday in the town of Amukpe.

A spokesman for the corporation, Levi Ajonuma, said the cause of the fire was a “willful destruction of government property.”

Rebels in the restive region have been targeting oil facilities since 2006.

IVORY COAST

Pro-Gbagbo journalist victim of political violence

ABIDJAN | A press-freedom group voiced fears for reporters in the Ivory Coast this week after it said a journalist supportive of ex-president Laurent Gbagbo was murdered.

Reporters Without Borders expressed its shock over what it called “the murder of Sylvain Gagnetaud,” a radio journalist in the Yopougon district of the capital, Abidjan.

The western suburb was the scene of fighting between pro-Gbagbo militia and forces backing the new president, Alassane Ouattara, after Mr. Gbagbo was detained on April 11.

Known for her “closeness” to the ousted president’s party, sources told the group the journalist was arrested during an operation by pro-Ouattara forces sometime around May 8 and executed soon after.

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