- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 25, 2002

Burundian belligerents urged to begin talks

KAMPALA, Uganda A group of African presidents working to deliver Burundi from almost a decade of civil conflict urged the country's warring parties yesterday to hold three weeks of cease-fire talks from Aug. 6.

"Despite the efforts of the facilitation team, spearheaded by [South African] Vice President Jacob Zuma, President Omar Bongo of Gabon and President Benjamin Mkapa of Tanzania, to bring the Burundian belligerents to the negotiating table for a cease-fire, little has been achieved," the Regional Peace Initiative on Burundi said in a statement issued by the Foreign Ministry in Kampala.

"The absence of a cease-fire has meant continued suffering of the ordinary and innocent people of Burundi," the statement said.

U.S. reportedly backs Angola for U.N. council

LUANDA, Angola The top U.S. diplomat for Africa has backed Angola for a spot on the U.N. Security Council, Angolan official sources said yesterday.

Walter Kansteiner told Foreign Minister Joao Miranda during meetings here that Washington would support a bid by the southwest African country for a non-permanent membership, which lasts two years, the source said.

Mr. Kansteiner spent a 24-hour visit in Angola mainly in talks with Angolan President Jose Eduardo dos Santos, several other officials and the former leaders of the rebel National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, which signed a cease-fire agreement with the army April 4.

During an official visit last week, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin publicly supported Angola for a Security Council spot.

African postal units urged to modernize

NAIROBI, Kenya Poor technology and botched regulatory services have jeopardized Africa's postal sector, currently struggling to survive in a liberalized market, a Kenyan telecommunications official said yesterday.

"Modern technologies and a sound independent regulatory regime, supported by enabling policies and legislations, are crucial for Africa's postal industry to enable it develop to full potential," said Samwel Chepkonga, head of the Communication Commission of Kenya.

"We need to hasten liberalization, welcome participation of the private sector, adopt common policies that attract investors and harmonize postal businesses in Africa if we are to stay in business," Mr. Chepkonga told the opening session of the Universal Postal Union's conference on global postal regulations and services.

Weekly notes

The body of Nigerian minority-rights activist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, executed seven years ago, has been exhumed for a "decent" reburial, his family said yesterday. Saro-Wiwa and eight of his companions in the Movement for the Survival of Ogoni People (MOSOP) were hanged in November 1995 after being convicted of murder in the mob killing of four Ogoni traditional chiefs. MOSOP was created in 1993 to fight pollution in the oil-rich but impoverished Niger delta and seek a share of the royalties for the minority group. The Alliance for Democracy in Mali (ADEMA), the country's largest political party, has taken an early lead in this month's parliamentary elections, according to initial official results. The Constitutional Court announced late Tuesday that ADEMA had won nine National Assembly seats in the first-round vote on July 14; only 23 of the assembly's 147 seats were won outright, so a final round of voting will be held Sunday.

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