- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 21, 2002

Congolese rebels issue vehicle tags
KINSHASA, Congo The government has complained to the U.N. Security Council that Rwandan-backed rebels have violated the country's territory by issuing vehicle license plates.
Foreign Minister Leonard She Okitundu told Agence France-Presse the Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy (RCD), which controls about a third of the vast Democratic Republic of Congo, demands hard currency for the new licenses.
RCD spokesman Jean-Pierre Lola Kisanga told AFP by telephone that the new measure is no more than a "simple administrative act." A "dead city" protest has been under way since Monday in Bukavu, where shops remain closed in a protest by the local business association.

Obiang to IMF: Drop dead
MALABO, Equatorial Guinea President Teodoro Obiang Nguema has rebuffed calls from the International Monetary Fund for greater transparency about newfound oil wealth and says he has no intention of making revenue figures public.
"This is a state secret," Gen. Obiang told Reuters in an interview. "There is a state body which knows the rates of these revenues, but I do not agree that we give this information to the IMF."
Major oil finds by U.S. companies in the mid-1990s have catapulted the tiny Central African country to among the world's fastest-growing economies. The hunt for oil has been further spurred by the desire of the United States to diversify its sources away from the Middle East.
The sudden explosion of riches has raised fears among donors of the misuse of oil revenues in a region long tainted by corruption.

Eritrea awaits U.S. presence
ASSAB, Eritrea One of the largest ports on the Red Sea stands idle, its huge cranes motionless in the oppressive heat. Yet this town on the southern tip of Eritrea could become a base for U.S. troops in its wars on terrorism and/or Iraq's Saddam Hussein.
Early this year, Gen. Tommy Franks, head of U.S. Central Command, visited Eritrea, whose government is said to be eager for the stature and cash a U.S. presence would bring. On Oct. 29, Gen. Franks said the United States has "security relationships or engagement opportunities" in many Horn of Africa countries, including Eritrea.
The amphibious command ship USS Mount Whitney is expected to arrive in about a month to serve as the Red Sea floating headquarters for a joint command U.S. task force, said Maj. Pete Mitchell, a Central Command spokesman. U.S. officials say the headquarters could later move ashore.

Weekly notes
Swaziland's government yesterday advertised the posts of chief justice and director of public prosecutions after the incumbents clashed with the palace over a new teenage bride for King Mswati III. "When I arrived at my office this morning I found the door locks on my office had been changed," prosecutions director Lincoln Ngarua told Agence France-Presse. "I have a contract that runs until 2005 and I have told government through my lawyer to work out my [severance] package before I can resign." Ivory Coast rebels yesterday dismissed an offer by President Laurent Gbagbo to heed one of their demands and hold a constitutional referendum by 2004. "If he has any concrete proposals, let him present it through the government delegation here" in Lome, Togo's capital, said rebel spokesman Sidiki Konate.


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