- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 8, 2002

Flu epidemic ravages Madagascar

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar At least 283 persons have died of influenza over the last two months on the Indian Ocean island of Madagascar, according to a new death toll released yesterday by health authorities.

On Tuesday, the official number of deaths blamed on the epidemic stood at 184.

"Today, the death toll in four districts of Fianarantsoa province is 283 deaths among 3,857 reported cases," senior Health Ministry official Arther Lamina told journalists.

Children and the elderly have been especially hard hit by the outbreak.

Anti-apartheid militant asks for pardon

CAPE TOWN, South Africa Allan Boesak, the disgraced anti-apartheid fighter and cleric who was jailed for embezzling and stealing donor funds, has applied to President Thabo Mbeki for a pardon, a government spokesman said yesterday.

Boesak was convicted in 1999 on fraud and theft charges involving $13,700 in foreign donors' funds intended for victims of apartheid.

The money was given by Scandinavian donors and singer Paul Simon to an organization he headed during the 1980s when he was at the forefront of opposition to South Africa's system of white rule.

Boesak went to prison in May 2000 to serve a three-year sentence, but it was reduced for good behavior, and he was released on parole July 2001.

EU announces 'blood diamonds' curbs

BRUSSELS The illicit trade in "blood diamonds," which the United Nations blames for oiling the wheels of war in Africa, will meet stiffer resistance in the European Union under proposals to be presented today.

The European Commission the executive arm of the European Union will publish plans to make into law the rules agreed by diamond producers and traders two years ago that would make countries issue certificates of origin for rough diamonds.

The United Nations says warring factions in Angola, Sierra Leone and Liberia buy arms with proceeds from uncut gemstones sold to the world market, where their origins are soon obscured.

World leaders to attend Earth summit

PRETORIA, South Africa Nearly 100 world leaders have indicated they will attend the U.N. Earth summit, which starts in Johannesburg on August 26.

The latest count by the South African Foreign Ministry lists 98 countries to be represented "on the highest level" on the last three days of the World Summit on Sustainable Development Sept. 2 to 4.

A total of 196 governments will participate in the summit.

$300 million pledged for 5-year Ghana plan

BRUSSELS The European Commission the executive arm of the European Union said yesterday it would provide $300 million for a five-year development plan for Ghana.

The European Union cooperation strategy for 2002 to 2007 aims to help the Ghanaian government promote economic growth and curb inequalities, a commission statement said.

About $224 million will be channeled toward growth projects such as rural development and road infrastructure, which are considered key priorities for the nation.

The remaining money will be set aside in emergency funds, to help Ghana manage a budget deficit or sudden drop in export revenues.

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