- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 20, 2001

Nigeria pushes drive against crooks in office

ABUJA, Nigeria The government resolved yesterday to beef up its war on corruption by establishing an anti-corruption and transparency office in each ministry.

Government spokesman Ojo Madueke told reporters after the weekly Cabinet meeting that the offices will be independent of the ministers and will report directly to the anti-graft commission set up in June 1999 shortly after President Olusegun Obasanjo came to office.

Each office will be headed by a top public functionary with vast experience in administrative and financial matters, said Mr. Madueke, who is the transportation minister.

"Where the minister himself is a suspect in a corrupt practice, the unit is definitely not expected to inform the minister but report directly to the president," he said.

Mai-Mai guerrillas will join Congo talks

KINSHASA, Congo Ethnic Mai-Mai militias allied with the Congo government are to be included in the peace process now under way, Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu said Tuesday.

Mr. Okitundu said at a meeting of the diplomatic corps and the media the decision was made last weekend by the political committee charged with implementing the Lusaka peace accord.

Mai-Mai operational commander Gen. Joseph Padiri this month demanded a place at the talks due to begin Oct. 15 in Addis Ababa that will seek a political settlement. Mai-Mai forces are based in the eastern Kivu provinces, on land mainly controlled by Rwandan-backed rebels.

Swazi king forbids sex with teen girls

SHESELWENI, Swaziland King Mswati III has forbidden Swazi men from having sexual relations with teen-age girls for the next five years and slapped a fine of one cow on lawbreakers.

"Those of us who were about to propose love to these girls should wait until the end of the five-year period, the girls will be ready and matured by then," the king told a crowd Sunday that had gathered to mark his 33rd birthday.

An official of the country, which has about a million people, said last year that a quarter of them were infected with the AIDS virus.

Weekly notes

Commonwealth chief Don McKinnon said in London yesterday he wants to maintain dialogue with Zimbabwe over land reforms and other issues rather than applying sanctions. "Our principal objective has been to engage in a productive way at a senior level with the Zimbabwe government to achieve the kinds of results that people would want to see," he said. South African President Thabo Mbeki assured President Bush in a phone call yesterday of Pretoria's support in the fight against terrorism, but they did not discuss military options. Minister in the Presidency Essop Pahad said during a news conference that Mr. Bush "emphasized that the United States, its government and he himself are not against Islam, are not against Arabs and that there is no approach of collective guilt on the part of any people."

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