- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 25, 2002

Africans fear exclusion if Le Pen is elected

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo Many people in former French colonies in Africa heard the sound of slamming doors as they learned of the strong showing by right-wing candidate Jean-Marie Le Pen in the first round of the French presidential election.

"Well, I can say goodbye to France," said Aime Sita, a young man here. For two years, Mr. Sita has been refused a visa for France still the land of opportunity for many in the more than two dozen French-speaking countries in former European colonies across Africa.

Mr. Le Pen is known for his anti-immigration stance and for blaming North Africans in particular for France's growing crime rate. The candidate, who has bested Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin in Sunday's first-round voting, faces conservative President Jacques Chirac in the May 5 runoff.

Angola hopes to offer retrovirals for AIDS

LUANDA, Angola The government adopted a program yesterday that aimed to provide life-prolonging anti-retroviral drugs to people living with AIDS, especially to pregnant women and children.

The program's main goal is to reduce the rate of mother-to-child transmission of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, and to reduce mortality rates among people with HIV, said a statement from the Council of Ministers, headed by President Jose Eduardo dos Santos.

The government hopes to receive funding from the U.N. AIDS agency UNAIDS, the World Health Organization and several nongovernmental organizations. Specialists estimate 43,748 persons are infected with HIV in Angola, though only 5,112 cases have been reported to public health officials.

Brazzaville reopens rail link to port

BRAZZAVILLE, Republic of Congo The army said yesterday it had regained control of a rebel-held rail link, ending a crisis that starved this capital of fuel, food and other vital supplies.

The army announced it had retaken the Congo-Ocean Railway, the main economic lifeline in the central African country, after a three-day battle with rebel fighters of the so-called Ninja militia.

It said several of the rebels had been killed in the fighting, which took place in the Pool region between the capital and the Atlantic port of Pointe-Noire, Congo's principal economic hub.

Traders have started ferrying food and industrial goods into the capital by plane from Pointe-Noire, doubling the price of basic goods. Taxi drivers in Brazzaville were forced by the three-week break in supplies from Pointe-Noire to buy gasoline at nearly four times the normal price.

Weekly notes

Nigeria's first elections since the country's return to civilian rule in 1999 were scheduled for Aug. 10, officials announced yesterday. Presidential and state elections are planned for next year. Ghana's main opposition party will open a three-day congress tomorrow, its first since losing power in late 2000. The conclave of the National Democratic Congress also will be crucial in determining the future party influence of former President Jerry Rawlings.

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