- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 6, 2002

Nigerian activists given posthumous honors

PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria Thirteen late feuding leaders of Nigeria's minority Ogoni ethnic group, including activist Ken Saro-Wiwa who was hanged, have been given posthumous honors in a move aimed at reconciliation within the community, witnesses said yesterday.
The honors for the so-called Ogoni 13 were announced Friday at an event organized by the Movement for the Survival of the Ogoni People (MOSOP) marking Ogoni Day, the national day of the minority community on Jan. 4, witnesses said.
Those honored were the founder of MOSOP, Mr. Saro-Wiwa, and eight supporters, all hanged in 1995 by the government, and four prominent traditional Ogoni leaders whose deaths in January 1995 were blamed on Mr. Saro-Wiwa and the others.

U.S. suspends funding for Iraqi opposition
U.S. funding for a leading Iraqi opposition group has been suspended because the organization failed to account for the money properly, a State Department official said yesterday.
Despite the suspension of Iraqi National Congress (INC) funds, the department still considers the group an important player in the opposition to Saddam Hussein, said Gregg Sullivan, spokesman for the Near Eastern Affairs bureau.
Sharif Ali Bin Hussein, a spokesman for the INC, said the letter was premature and was engineered by officials in the Bush administration who don't want aggressive action against Iraq.
The London-based confederation of opposition groups has considerable backing in Congress but is seen as largely ineffectual by many in the Bush administration.
Mr. Sullivan said the suspension is not policy-related, but was imposed because the State Department inspector general found the group lacked financial controls to account for its funds.

Italian foreign minister quits over euro bashing
ROME Foreign Minister Renato Ruggiero resigned from Italy's center-right government late yesterday after a dispute with Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi over Italy's European policy.
A diplomatically worded statement released by the prime minister's office said the foreign minister resigned during a "cordial" telephone discussion with Mr. Berlusconi, who is on holiday on Sardinia's Costa Smerelda.
The resignation brought an abrupt end to an uneasy seven-month partnership which saw a series of clashes over Mr. Berlusconi's European policy.
Matters were brought to a head in a newspaper in which Mr. Ruggiero criticized Mr. Berlusconi for failing to marshal a better response from Eurosceptics in his Cabinet at a time when other European governments were giving the new euro currency their full backing.

Haze from bush fires blankets Sydney
SYDNEY, Australia A smoky haze choked the summer sky above Sydney and white ash rained down yesterday as massive wildfires swept the bushland to the north and edged closer to a beach village to the south.
Firefighters battling dozens of blazes around Australia's biggest city for 13 days took advantage of a break from the bone-dry summer heat to prepare for an onslaught they fear will come next week.
Some of the 100-odd fires raging across New South Wales state were too big to tackle head-on and burned out of control north, west and south of Sydney.

Mugabe backers accused of attacking opponents
HARARE, Zimbabwe Zimbabwe's main opposition party yesterday accused youths loyal to President Robert Mugabe of attacking one of its offices and the home of a legislator as violence increased ahead of presidential elections set for March.
The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) also accused the government of "crude propaganda" for reporting on Friday that some MDC officials were occupying land seized from white farmers under Mr. Mugabe's land reform program.
The MDC said about 300 youths from Mr. Mugabe's Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party attacked its headquarters in Chitungwiza on Friday, injuring several persons.

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