- - Wednesday, August 8, 2012


UNITED NATIONS — U.N. leader Ban Ki-moon on Wednesday called on the Security Council to impose sanctions against Mali extremist groups accused of terrorism and desecrating Muslim religious shrines.

He made the call at a Security Council meeting at which a West African envoy said militant groups that control the north of Mali want to set up a haven for “continental terrorist networks.”

Mr. Ban said the 15-nation council should “give serious consideration to the imposition of targeted travel and financial sanctions against individuals or groups in Mali engaged in terrorist, religious extremist or criminal activities.”

He called the destruction of nine of the 16 shrines in Timbuktu a “callous” act by the Islamist Ansar Dine group, which controls northern Mali with al Qaeda-linked fighters.

A March 22 military coup in the West African country set off a chain of chaotic events that led to Tuareg rebels and Ansar Dine taking over the north of Mali.

The Economic Community of West African States has proposed sending an intervention force to Mali to help the transitional government. It has asked for U.N. backing.


Human rights groups slam foundation’s summit

DAKAR, Senegal — Human rights groups are calling on a foundation named for a late U.S. civil rights leader to cancel an upcoming summit in Equatorial Guinea, where the government is accused of torturing political opponents and other human rights abuses.

The Leon H. Sullivan Foundation has organized an Aug. 20 to 24 gathering at a lavish complex that includes an 18-hole golf course, a five-star hotel and a spa in a West African country where many lack access to electricity and running water.

Among the stated objectives is to “create an atmosphere of open dialogue about the state of human rights” in Africa. Activists say that’s unlikely to happen in Equatorial Guinea, which has one of the worst human rights records on the continent.

“The Sullivan Foundation is destroying the legacy of its namesake by working hand-in-hand with one of the most repressive, exploitative regimes in Africa’s history,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of the Washington-based Human Rights Foundation.

President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has ruled Equatorial Guinea since seizing power in a 1979 coup, and is Africa’s longest-serving ruler.

The most recent human rights report from the U.S. State Department notes widespread official corruption, along with the denial of basic political rights and other human rights abuses.

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