- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 2, 2002

South Africa contests AIDS-drug ruling

JOHANNESBURG South Africa's government heads to the country's highest court today in a battle over whether it has a constitutional duty to give anti-AIDS drugs to HIV-positive pregnant women.

The country has the world's highest number of people living with HIV and AIDS, but the government of President Thabo Mbeki has questioned a link between human immuno-deficiency virus and acquired immune deficiency syndrome and blocked wide access to drugs it deems toxic and too costly.

The government announced some shifts in its AIDS policy last month but went ahead and appealed a lower court ruling last year compelling it to offer pregnant women immediate access to nevirapine, a drug said to cut mother-to-child transmission of the disease by half.

Madagascar winner puts off accession

ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar Marc Ravalomanana has decided to delay his investiture as president as divisions deepened yesterday and two provinces seceded over his plan to assume the presidency, an aide said.

Guy Rajemison, head of the newly proclaimed president's office, told Agence France-Presse that Mr. Ravalomanana had decided, at the request of the Organization of African Unity, to postpone his investiture, set for tomorrow.

Toure takes lead in crowded Mali poll

BAMAKO, Mali Amadou Toumani Toure, a former army ruler who ended military dictatorship and brought democracy a decade ago, edged ahead in partial presidential election results making a runoff increasingly likely.

A record 24 candidates were in Sunday's poll to succeed President Alpha Oumar Konare, barred by the constitution from seeking a third term.

Summit proposed to push Burundi

KAMPALA, Uganda South African Deputy President Jacob Zuma has called for a regional summit to help jump-start the peace process in Burundi, sources at the Ugandan presidency said here yesterday.

Mr. Zuma made his appeal at a meeting Tuesday night with Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni. Forces for the Defense of Democracy and the National Liberation Front rebels refused to sign a peace accord between the other parties to the civil war.

Weekly notes

Chad's ruling party won nearly 80 percent of seats in last month's parliamentary election, official results late Tuesday showed. The outcome bolsters President Idriss Deby's position as his poor, landlocked nation looks forward to economic transformation when a new oil export pipeline comes on stream in 2003. A stalemated U.N. Security Council this week voted itself another three months to try to resolve a seemingly endless debate over whether Western Sahara should gain independence or remain a part of Morocco, which annexed the former Spanish colony in 1975.

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