- - Wednesday, May 4, 2011

SOUTH AFRICA

Johannesburg saves Mandela’s old law offices

JOHANNESBURG | The central Johannesburg building where Nelson Mandela and Oliver Tambo had a historic law office was on the verge of collapse.

Now city officials hope it will anchor a renaissance.

Amos Masondo, the mayor of South Africa’s largest city, showed off on Wednesday the results of about $750,000 spent over the past year to turn Chancellor House into a museum and archive.

Mr. Mandela and Tambo, who each would go on to lead the African National Congress, opened the country’s first black law partnership on the top floor in 1952 and closed it in 1960, when their political work made it impossible to keep practicing.

Mr. Masondo has about $300,000 budgeted for the finishing touches of the renovation and installation of the planned museum tracing the building’s history and housing the digital archive of cases Mr. Mandela and Tambo handled.

He said he hopes private businesspeople will be drawn to the area and help drive broader renewal for a dilapidated neighborhood. He said he wants to “leverage heritage to ensure development.”

Mr. Mandela and Tambo held political meetings at Chancellor House, and it was a hub of legal preparations for those arrested during the 1952 Defiance Campaign, when blacks were encouraged to break racial-separation laws, and during the 1956 treason trial, when Mr. Mandela and Tambo were among 156 defendants charged for supporting the Freedom Charter calling for a nonracial democracy.

Both leaders represented blacks who had run afoul of apartheid-era laws by committing acts such as riding on whites-only buses or drinking from fountains reserved for whites.

SOMALIA

Somalis celebrate bin Laden’s death

MOGADISHU | Hundreds of Somalis marched through the country’s capital on Wednesday to celebrate the death of Osama bin Laden, the shadowy al Qaeda leader they blamed for starting a trend of suicide attacks in the country.

The demonstrators chanted “Terror, terror go away, little kids want to play” in the Somali language. They also burned a flag they said was an al Qaeda flag.

“Osama is dead. No more terror funding, no more al-Shabab, no more terrorists,” one banner read, referring to Somalia’s most dangerous militant group.

The pro-government demonstrators walked through the government-controlled area of Mogadishu and were guarded by government troops.

Bin Laden was killed late Sunday during a raid by U.S. commandos on a house in Abbottabad, Pakistan, near Islamabad.

“His death will be a milestone for world peace,” said a march participant, Mohamed Said. “He was the starter, driver and investor behind my countrymen’s deaths.”

Members of al-Shabab have pledged allegiance to bin Laden and al Qaeda. A spokesman for the group, which counts hundreds of foreign fighters among its ranks, threatened attacks in retaliation for bin Laden’s death.

UGANDA

Lawyers protest over political violence

KAMPALA | About 300 lawyers gathered in Uganda’s capital on Wednesday to protest the arrest of the country’s top opposition leader and a crackdown on demonstrations, chanting: “We want a change in the regime.”

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, who has been in power for a quarter-century, has vowed repeatedly that his government will not be taken down by protests.

U.N. officials have said demonstrations over the past three weeks in Uganda have left eight people dead and wounded more than 250 others.

The protests have been the first serious unrest in sub-Saharan Africa since a wave of anti-government protests swept longtime leaders in Tunisia and Egypt out of power.

On Wednesday, lawyers gathered outside the high court in Uganda’s capital and demanded the resignation of security officials involved in opposition leader Kizza Besigye’s arrest last week.

“In the past three weeks there have been events showing that as a country we are not still under rule of law,” said group member Bruce Kyerere. “We are appalled by recent police high-handedness while arresting protesters, which has caused injury in civilians and loss of lives.”

Mr. Kyerere also said Ugandan journalists were being directed not to air protests live on air “so as to cover up atrocities made by police while arresting them.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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