- - Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Madagascar

ANTANANARIVO — The soldiers who staged a mutiny over the weekend near Madagascar’s main airport were paid to take up the revolt, the head of security for the island’s capital said Wednesday.

They each received about $4 to $6 to wage the mutiny Sunday, Gen. Richard Ravalomanana said.

That would be a decent payout in a nation where 81 percent of the population lives on less than $1.25 a day.

Gen. Ravalomanana said authorities were still investigating to determine who was behind the attack, adding that they have questioned 130 people.

Three soldiers, including the leader of the Sunday mutiny, were killed when paramilitary police and loyalist troops retook the base.

One soldier told an opposition radio station that the mutiny was a coup, but no other public demands were made.

The incident came three days before Wednesday’s landmark talks between the island’s ruler Andry Rajoelina and the man he toppled in 2009, Marc Ravalomanana.

Uganda

Lack of troops delays hunt for warlord Kony

KAMPALA — The head of a planned African Union force to hunt warlord Joseph Kony said Wednesday that he cannot start his task because he lacks troops, equipment and the necessary funding.

Ugandan Col. Dick Olum spoke to reporters from Yambio, South Sudan, as AU and U.N. officials gathered in Uganda to consider regional efforts to catch Kony and dismantle his infamous Lord’s Resistance Army.

Col. Olum said the Kony hunt was still in the hands of some 2,000 Ugandan soldiers and 500 South Sudanese troops. The AU force, however, was meant to start operating in March with as many as 5,000 troops from Uganda, South Sudan, Congo and the Central African Republic — the countries affected by Kony’s rebellion over the past years. Funding for the mission, meant to come from the affected states and the international community, has yet to materialize, he added.

Kony was the first suspect to be indicted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in 2005. In March, the fugitive warlord became the subject of renewed international attention after U.S. charity Invisible Children released an online video aimed at raising awareness of crimes blamed on the rebels.

South Africa

Police seize drugs in elite suburbs

JOHANNESBURG — Police raided two upscale houses where illegal drugs were being manufactured.

Col. Vish Naidoo said drugs and drug-making equipment worth about $12 million were seized Wednesday in the raid in a posh northern Johannesburg area and arrested five people.

He said larger illegal drug labs have been found elsewhere in South Africa but “this is huge for us” because the facilities were found behind the high walls and gates of crime-protected elite suburbs.

“It shows us drugs lords don’t only use poor and secluded areas,” he said.

The equipment was being used to make mandrax, or methaqualone, once a brand-name sedative banned in 1977 for its addictive and powerful qualities and its use as a recreational drug, often mixed with marijuana.

Sudan

Two dissidents charged with opposing regime

KHARTOUM — Two anti-regime activists face up to 10 years in prison after a judge charged them Wednesday in a terrorism-linked conspiracy over Arab Spring-style discontent sparked by inflation.

Rudwan Daud and Ahmed Ali each face several charges, but the most serious is involvement with a terrorist or criminal organization, their attorney, Khaled Awad, said.

Mr. Daud and Mr. Ali could be jailed for five to 10 years if convicted on the most serious charge.

Mr. Daud is an activist with a nonviolent youth movement called “We Are Fed Up,” which, like its counterparts in Syria and elsewhere, has used Twitter and other social media to spread its anti-government message and support street protests.

On June 16 at the University of Khartoum, students started protesting high food prices, sparking the longest-running public challenge to the 23-year regime of President Omar al-Bashir.

After Mr. Bashir announced austerity measures, including tax hikes and an end to cheap fuel, scattered demonstrations calling for the government’s downfall spread around the capital and to other parts of Sudan.

Nigeria

Some villages reopened to displaced residents

KANO — Villagers displaced by Muslim militants can return safely to their homes in central Nigeria, the army said this week, after mopping up operations against the Islamic gunmen.

Authorities in Plateau state, a hotbed of violence between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups, said members of the mainly Muslim Fulani group carried out July 7-8 raids on several Christian villages and a funeral.

Herdsmen from the Fulani ethnic group said last week that the army had confined them to squalid camps ahead of a planned campaign to root out gunmen accused of killing more than 100 residents of five villages.

“The Fulani from four of the five villages vacated for military operations have been asked to go back to their homes following the completion of our operations in the area,” said Capt. Salihu Mustapha, military spokesman in Plateau.

Residents of a fifth village will remain in camps while security forces continue their campaign, he added.

South Africa

Baboons out of control in Cape Town

JOHANNESBURG — A renowned American primates expert says baboons are “out of control” on Africa’s southernmost tip because animal rights supporters have thwarted efforts to keep them in check.

Kenya-based U.S. anthropologist Shirley Strum said this week that herds of baboons are roaming freely in parts of urban Cape Town and surrounding districts. Some even sleep on the roofs of buildings.

In an open letter to a Cape Times newspaper, Ms. Strum said after visiting the Cape peninsula that she believes it already may be too late for fencing or other control measures to succeed.

Ms. Strum, who also is a professor at the University of California San Diego, said the baboons are raiding homes and restaurants, using their typical “ingenuity and adaptability.”

•From wire dispatches and staff reports