- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 30, 2002

Obasanjo sees strife over 2003 elections

LAGOS, Nigeria Nigeria marked three years of democracy yesterday with a chilling warning from President Olusegun Obasanjo on looming anarchy and "pervasive violence" related to national elections next year.

Mr. Obasanjo's warning came as Africa's most populous country, with about 120 million people, grapples with ethnic tension before the first major elections to be organized by civilian authorities in more than 20 years.

Scores of people died when violence erupted at a meeting of Mr. Obasanjo's ruling party in the central town of Jos early this month. Nigeria has been racked by its worst cycle of ethnic and religious clashes in three decades.

LURD again threatens former Taylor base

MONROVIA, Liberia Rebels of Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) have captured the town of Garmou and again threaten the strategic crossroads town of Gbarnga, a defense source said yesterday.

The rebels took Garmou, 110 miles northeast of Monrovia, and "still control Bellefenai, about [nine miles] from Gbarnga, indicating that Gbarnga itself can be attacked anytime again," the source told Agence France-Presse on the condition of anonymity.

LURD, which began an insurgency against President Charles Taylor's government about two years ago in the north, close to the Guinean border, achieved a major coup when it captured and briefly occupied Gbarnga on May 12.

The town, 100 miles northeast of Monrovia, had been the stronghold of Mr. Taylor's former rebel movement during the brutal 1989-96 civil war that brought him to power.

Uganda panel believes sect leaders are dead

KAMPALA, Uganda The two main leaders of more than 700 sect members who died in what police say were mass killings are probably dead, the state-run Ugandan Human Rights Commission said.

A commission report Monday said police should investigate the former resident district commissioner and his assistant to find out what they knew about the Movement for the Restoration of God a sect that police say was a scam to steal from its members.

The 85-page report said 444 bodies have been exhumed from the sect's branches around the country and the homes of its leaders. At least 330 more were killed in a church fire in Kanungu on March 17, 2000, but police say that many other bodies probably were reduced to ash in the fire.

The government has never issued a final report on its investigation. The commission said the sect was led by ex-prostitute Cledonia Mwerinde, who recruited and became the lover of Joseph Kibwetere, making him the sect's leader.

Weekly notes

Lesotho's ruling party was officially declared the winner yesterday of last weekend's parliamentary election. Election officials said the Lesotho Congress for Democracy won 77 of 80 contested seats in the 120-seat parliament. Opposition leaders have criticized the results, but foreign observers said the vote was free and fair. South African President Thabo Mbeki accused the United States yesterday of blocking the growth of developing countries by increasing subsidies to its farmers this month. He told the National Assembly that South Africa would make sure the issue came up at World Trade Organization talks.

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