- - Thursday, December 20, 2012

MALI

UNITED NATIONS — The U.N. Security Council approved Thursday an African-led military operation to oust al Qaeda-linked extremists from northern Mali, but not before the training of the country’s security forces and progress on political reconciliation and elections.

The resolution, passed unanimously, stresses that there must be a two-track plan, political and military, to wrest control of the turbulent north – an area the size of Texas – and reunite the West African nation.

It authorizes an African-led force to support Malian authorities in recovering the north, but sets benchmarks before the start of offensive operations, starting with progress on a political road map to restore constitutional order.

It also emphasizes that further military planning is needed before the African-led force is sent to the north and asks Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to “confirm in advance the council’s satisfaction with the planned military offensive operation.”

VENEZUELA

Vice president says Chavez conscious and recovering

CARACAS — Venezuela’s vice president said President Hugo Chavez is conscious and progressively recovering more than a week after cancer surgery in Cuba.

Nicolas Maduro said in a televised speech that Mr. Chavez is doing well after the complicated surgery.

Mr. Maduro also reiterated that the socialist leader is “fighting a great battle for his life, for his health.”

EGYPT

Prosecutor defies protesters, retracts his resignation

CAIRO — Egypt’s top prosecutor retracted his resignation Thursday, a decision that could renew an uproar in the country after he was accused of pressuring a judge not to release protesters opposed to the Islamist president.

The prosecutor, Talaat Abdullah, who was appointed by President Mohammed Morsi, told reporters he resigned Monday “under pressure” and amid “abnormal circumstances” with prosecutors holding a sit-in in front of his office.

The protesting prosecutors accused Mr. Abdullah of pressuring a judge not to release some 130 anti-Morsi protesters taken into custody this month.

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