- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 12, 2002

Health experts try to stop Ebola spread

GENEVA International health experts forced to pull out of a remote Gabonese town struck by Ebola were trying yesterday to reach an agreement with local officials on how to resume their work and arrest the spread of the disease.

The 17-member international team and Gabonese Health Ministry officials left the jungle town of Mekambo on Tuesday because of threats from local inhabitants. Ebola has so far claimed 25 lives.

World Health Organization spokesman Gregory Hartl said yesterday that a representative of the U.N. health agency, the aid group Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Gabonese Health Ministry had traveled to Mekambo some 465 miles northeast of Gabon's capital, Libreville to discuss security.

Ebola is one of the most deadly viral diseases and kills between 50 percent and 90 percent of those who contract it. It spreads through bodily fluids and attacks internal organs, causing bloody diarrhea and vomiting. Within two weeks, the victim usually dies from massive blood loss.

Albanian rebels revive insurgency

TETOVO, Macedonia Ethnic-Albanian rebels who led an insurgency last year are reactivating their units because the government has ignored a peace accord, a statement hand-delivered by a former guerrilla commander cautioned yesterday.

The rebels' self-styled National Liberation Army disbanded in October after handing in its weapons to NATO troops. Since then, there have been persistent reports that disgruntled former rebel fighters have formed new units to fight on for their cause.

There was no immediate reaction from the Macedonian government to the statement.

The Macedonian parliament has amended parts of the constitution to grant broader rights to ethnic Albanians, who account for about a third of the country's 2 million people. President Boris Trajkovski has pledged amnesty to rebels who committed no major crimes in the insurgency, which began February 2001.

Venezuela rocked by new security fears

CARACAS, Venezuela Caracas metropolitan police dispersed a rowdy protest with water cannons and tear gas yesterday, sparking concern about rival politicians using security forces for competing ends.

The 1,400-member metropolitan police is controlled by Greater Caracas Mayor Alfredo Pena, a staunch opponent of President Hugo Chavez. The national government controls the national guard.

Both forces are often dispatched to control strikes and protests, which in this impoverished South American capital numbered more than 700 last year. Most protests have been peaceful, but in recent weeks, supporters and opponents of the government have clashed during rival demonstrations.

Merkel bows out of German election

BERLIN The staunchly conservative governor of Bavaria, Edmund Stoiber, will lead Germany's opposition in its campaign to unseat Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in the September elections.

Party leader Angela Merkel, his only rival for the nomination, announced yesterday her decision to step aside after meeting with Mr. Stoiber, saying he offered the best chance to lead Germany's conservatives back into government four years after the defeat of Helmut Kohl.

Mr. Stoiber, 60, heads one of Germany's most conservative states, and his selection is expected to signal a shift to the right.

EU demands presence in Zimbabwe elections

BRUSSELS The European Union yesterday gave Zimbabwe one week to declare in writing that it would accept international observers and news media during the March 9-10 presidential elections.

"At this stage, the EU is not satisfied that its concerns will be met," said a statement issued by the 15-nation bloc after a day of consultations with Zimbabwean Foreign Minister Stan Mudenge.

Afghan national airline to resume flights

NEW YORK Afghanistan's national airline, grounded for more than two years, and the country's central bank will be allowed to operate again as the U.N. Security Council prepared yesterday for a new approach to sanctions on what remains of the Taliban and its terrorist cohorts.

In addition, Washington plans to unblock $200 million in frozen Afghan assets in the United States, John Negroponte, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the Associated Press.

Court rules to close TV channel in Russia

MOSCOW In a case seen as a test of Russia's commitment to freedom of the press, judges issued an order yesterday to shut down the TV6 channel, the last wide-reaching independent voice on the country's television airwaves.

The court received the case after an appeal was filed against a lower court's decision late last month to grant a reprieve to TV6. That decision canceled earlier rulings to liquidate the company and ordered a new hearing.

The case has prompted international concern about media freedom in Russia.

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