- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 13, 2002

Mussolini's successors snub Ethiopian leader

ROME Ethiopian Prime Minister Ato Meles Zenawi, in Rome for the World Food Summit, complained yesterday that Italian authorities had refused to discuss returning a national treasure looted by fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

The Axum obelisk, erected 24 centuries ago and taken by the Italian army in 1937, stands outside the Rome branch of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

"During my stay in Rome, I sought a meeting with the Italian government, but it replied that this was impossible because of the large number of guests in Rome," the prime minister told the Italian news agency Ansa.

"It made me very sad to see the obelisk humiliated, tied up with rope," he said of the obelisk.

North's emissions blamed for Sahel deaths

PARIS A swath of countries south of the Sahara suffered crippling drought for decades because of pollution by power stations and factories in North America and Europe, according to a team of climate experts.

A band of nations, from Guinea in western Africa to Ethiopia in the east, were hit by the worst and most prolonged droughts since weather records began, with precipitation falling by 20 percent to 50 percent for 30 to 40 years. During 1972 to 1975 and 1984 to 1985, up to a million people perished.

The reason, say researchers, is that rich countries unwittingly hijacked the clouds that should have provided rain for the Sahel region. They blame emissions of sulfur dioxide from burning coal and other fossil fuels by the industrialized Northern Hemisphere, the British weekly New Scientist says in Saturday's issue.

High in the atmosphere, the acid chemical forms sulfate aerosols that provide a core around which water molecules form. These molecules develop into clouds that reflect sunlight and cool the earth and seas beneath them. A computer simulation showed the developed Northern Hemisphere drove the tropical rain belt south, depriving Sahel countries of their normal rainfall.

The pollution in the Northern Hemisphere has greatly eased because of tough laws in the 1980s to combat "acid rain," but the scientists say the Sahel will continue to suffer for years because of lost vegetation and topsoil that was washed away when the rains returned.

Obasanjo undeterred by impeachment move

LAGOS, Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo is undeterred by a move by parliament to begin impeachment proceedings against him for failing to fully implement the budget, an aide said yesterday.

The Nigerian Senate accuses the president of violating the 1999 constitution by not fully implementing past federal budgets. But yesterday, the senators postponed by 24 hours proceedings on the impeachment move, said reporters who covered Senate session.

Weekly notes

Troops loyal to Madagascan President Marc Ravalomanana yesterday lifted one of the main roadblocks set up by his rival Didier Ratsiraka to isolate the capital, Antananarivo, military and foreign sources said. The army removed the blockade on the Betsiboka River bridge, which had for months closed the main road between the highlands capital and the main northwestern port, Mahajanga. South African President Thabo Mbeki arrived in Tripoli yesterday for talks with Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, one of the architects of the African Union that begins operation in July, the Libyan news agency Jana said. "The relations between our countries are excellent. We look forward to strengthen further our bilateral links. I feel happy that I will meet the brother leader," Jana quoted Mr. Mbeki as saying on arrival in Tripoli.

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