- - Wednesday, January 16, 2013

ETHIOPIA

ADDIS ABABA — An Ethiopian court has sentenced 10 men to prison terms for between three and 20 years for plotting terrorist attacks with Islamist extremist rebels from neighboring Somalia.

Among those sentenced is a Kenyan national, Hassan Jarso who pleaded guilty when charged in May.

Federal Judge Bahiru Darecha sentenced Jarso to 17 years in prison on Tuesday.

Eleven men originally were charged with the terrorism-related crimes, but one was acquitted. Six of the men were sentenced in absentia.

The sentences come amid signs of increasing militancy in the East African nation. Ethiopian troops moved into Somalia in 2011 to fight the Islamist extremist rebels, al-Shabab.

Ethiopia’s intelligence agency said in early January that 15 people were arrested as alleged members of a terrorist cell linked to al-Shabab.

SOMALIA

Militants threaten to kill French hostage

MOGADISHU — Somalia’s al Qaeda-linked rebels said Wednesday that they will kill the French intelligence agent they hold hostage.

The Islamist extremists said that France signed the death warrant of a French intelligence agent by launching a rescue operation last weekend that failed to free him, in a statement released Wednesday.

The militant group al-Shabab has held the French agent, Denis Allex, since July 2009.

Al-Shabab said that it decided to kill Mr. Allex in retaliation for the late Friday to early Saturday operation. Two French soldiers and 17 Somalis were killed during the rescue attempt, French officials say.

French officials believe Mr. Allex already is dead. Al-Shabab has said Mr. Allex is still alive after the rescue attempt.

SENEGAL

Senegal set to host trial of Chad’s ex-dictator

DAKAR — Senegal’s justice minister says former Chadian dictator Hissene Habre will go on trial next month of charges of crimes against humanity.

The trial got the go-ahead after a vote in Senegal’s parliament last month. It is to take place in a special tribunal authorized under the African Union and will mark a major step toward Africa dealing with its own alleged war criminals.

Justice Minister Aminata Toure said Tuesday that the trial is expected early next month. Belgium has offered to help finance the cost of special African tribunals within Senegal’s court system.

Mr. Habre faces accusations of torture, crimes against humanity and war crimes during his rule from 1982 to 1990. He has enjoyed 22 years of impunity after fleeing to Senegal — leaving behind a country strewn with mass graves.

KENYA

Coffins set on fire to protest lawmakers

NAIROBI — Hundreds of demonstrators angered at outgoing Kenyan lawmakers doused 221 coffins with gasoline and set them on fire Wednesday, causing an inferno outside parliament’s main entrance.

Organizers of the protest said the coffins represented the end of an era of parliament’s 221 lawmakers and burning the coffins symbolized the start of a new era away from the dishonorable acts that parliament was known for in the past five years. The lawmakers’ terms ended earlier this week.

Kenyans say their lawmakers are seen as lazy, greedy and self-centered for often improving their welfare lavishly at the cost of taxpayers.

A Kenyan lawmaker earns about $175,000 a year in a country where the average annual wage income is $1,700.

ZIMBABWE

U.N. appeals for $131 million in aid for Zimbabwe

HARARE — The United Nations says it needs $131 million in humanitarian assistance to meet food, water and emergency needs in Zimbabwe.

The U.N. humanitarian coordinator, Alain Noudehou, said Tuesday at least $110 million will be used to provide food for more than 1.6 million Zimbabweans facing starvation this year.

Mr. Noudehou said the appeal is less than the previous year’s $197 million because of “a steady improvement” in the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe brought about by an upturn in some sectors of the economy.

The U.N. said this year’s food shortages are “worse” than the past three years because of drought, erratic rains and cash shortages to buy seed and fertilizers for impoverished farmers in the countryside, many who took over formerly white-owned farms.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Ugandan, U.S. forces welcome truce with rebels

KAMPALA, Uganda — Ugandan soldiers and U.S forces who are pursuing the leader of the brutal Lord’s Resistance Army in the jungles of the Central African Republic say a recent rebellion has not affected their operations, but officials said they welcome a peace deal signed with rebels anyway.

The peace deal signed last week puts an end to any fears that a flare-up in violence in the landlocked country would influence the hunt for Lord’s Resistance leader Joseph Kony and his deputies.

President Obama sent 100 U.S. special operations forces to help advise in the hunt about a year ago.

Rebels had marched toward the capital of the Central African Republic in the past month, but a peace deal reached last week will instead let President Francois Bozize stay in office until his term ends in 2016.

Late last month Central African Republic troops abandoned joint operations with Ugandan forces looking for Kony as the government increased security in the capital.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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