- - Thursday, August 30, 2012

MALDIVES

An inquiry commission has determined that the Maldives’ first democratically elected president was not forced to resign, as he has claimed.

Mohamed Nasheed, who resigned Feb. 7, insists he was ousted at gunpoint, a claim he reiterated in an interview with The Washington Times in June. He said he was forced to resign following a “coup” staged by Islamic radicals, the police and the military.

In its report Thursday, the Maldives’ National Commission of Inquiry found no evidence to support Mr. Nasheed’s claims.

“With regard to the idea that there was a ‘coup d’etat,’ nothing in the Maldives changed in constitutional terms — indeed, the constitution was precisely followed as prescribed,” the report says.

Vice President Mohammed Waheed Hassan assumed power after Mr. Nasheed stepped down.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland welcomed the release of the report and commended the commission’s leaders for their “commitment to a thorough and inclusive investigation and review process.”

SYRIA

Activists say rebels shot down warplane

BEIRUT — Syrian activists said rebels shot down a government warplane over the northern province of Idlib on Thursday, the second time in a week that opposition fighters claimed to have brought down an aircraft in the escalating civil war.

Two activist groups, the Local Coordination Committees and the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the plane was seen crashing near the Abu Zuhour air base. Idlib-based activist Alaa al-Din said rebels shot it down with heavy machine guns.

The government had no immediate comment, and the report couldn’t be confirmed independently.

Over the past month, President Bashar Assad’s regime has been relying much more heavily on air power, escalating the fight with rebels as its ground forces have been stretched thin fighting on many fronts, including Syria’s two largest cities, Damascus and Aleppo.

The increased use of air power is likely a factor in the high daily death tolls, which activists say have been averaging 100 to 250 lately.

UZBEKISTAN

Lawmakers ban foreign military bases

TASHKENT — Uzbek lawmakers on Thursday approved a foreign-policy bill that bans the creation of foreign military bases in the Central Asian country and its participation in military blocs.

The bill, which has yet to be signed by President Islam Karimov, outlines a “foreign policy concept” for Uzbekistan and is seen as a symbolic gesture toward both Russia and the U.S. as the country’s geopolitical importance grows ahead of the pullout of NATO troops from Afghanistan.

The concept, initiated by Mr. Karimov, comes shortly after Tashkent exited a Russia-led military alliance, a move that sparked talk of Uzbekistan’s changing allegiances and seeking to establish U.S. bases on its soil.

SOUTH AFRICA

Miners charged with deaths of 34 killed by police

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s National Prosecuting Authority said it is charging 270 miners with the murders of 34 striking colleagues who were shot and killed by police officers.

The strange development — which comes under an arcane Roman-Dutch common law — seems to show that President Jacob Zuma’s government is trying to shift the blame for the killings from police to the striking miners.

The killings shocked the nation, and Thursday’s news likely will inflame already angry South Africans.

Prosecuting Authority spokesman Frank Lesenyego said all 270 miners who were arrested after the shootings were charged Thursday at a court near the Lonmin PLC platinum mine where the fatalities occurred.

On Aug. 16, striking miners armed with clubs, machetes and at least one gun allegedly charged at police, who opened fire.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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