- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 29, 2002

Arab League denies Sudan pact is threat

CAIRO Arab League Secretary-General Amr Mussa said yesterday that a Sudanese peace agreement providing for a self-determination referendum in the country's war-torn south is not a danger to Arab security.

The Machakos Protocol "does not constitute a danger to Arab national security, seeing as the government of Sudan, which is a [league] member, is a party to the agreement," Mr. Mussa told reporters after meeting with permanent delegates at the league's Cairo headquarters.

However, Mr. Mussa said the pan-Arab organization has a "duty to protect the unity of Sudan and prevent all factors and developments which might lead to the secession of the south."

Under terms of the protocol signed in Machakos, Kenya, on July 20 between Khartoum and the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army, southern Sudan will be granted a six-year period of administrative autonomy, followed by a referendum on whether its people wish to remain part of Sudan or secede.

Diplomats and other analysts say Egypt, in particular, fears creation of a new state would increase competition for the Nile waters and make it easier for Islamists to dominate northern Sudan.

Genetically altered food deemed safe to eat

HARARE, Zimbabwe Genetically modified food is safe for people to eat and should be used to fight famine threatening millions in southern Africa, the head of the World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday.

WHO Director-General Gro Harlem Brundtland said in a statement her organization was "not aware of scientifically documented cases in which the consumption of these foods has had negative human health effects."

An estimated 13 million people face famine in southern Africa, and 300,000 people could die of starvation in the next six months, according to WHO statistics.

But three countries affected by the crisis Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe have raised health and environmental concerns over long-term effects of genetically modified corn that may be included in emergency food aid. Zambia has said it no longer would allow genetically modified food into the country.

Weekly notes

Central African Republic Premier Martin Ziguele has accused Chad of sending troops into its territory in an act of "provocation," state radio reports. Mr. Ziguele said Chadian troops were in Moyenne-Sido, a town four miles inside the Central African Republic, and were "pushing us for a confrontation." The West African regional grouping ECOWAS hopes to convene peace talks on the Liberian civil war within a month. Diarra Shek, deputy executive secretary of the Economic Community of West African States said talks would aim at bringing about a cease-fire between the government of President Charles Taylor and rebels calling themselves Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy.

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