- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

Circumcision may bar Bantu women from U.S.

NAIROBI, Kenya Families of recently circumcised young Somali Bantu women are likely to be excluded from one of the largest resettlement programs of Africans to the United States this year, a U.S. official said yesterday.

The program involves Somali Bantus now living in exile in Kenya. In 1999 the United States, which bans female circumcision, designated them a priority group for resettlement.

"The Somali Bantus apparently understood that circumcision would be illegal in the United States, and the result of this is them circumcising their girls before leaving," U.S. Embassy spokesman Tom Hart told Reuters.

He said a publicity campaign would be used to tell Bantus of the dangers of what Western women's advocates call "female genital mutilation" and warn it may block their U.S. resettlement. Doctors examining Bantus before emigration will be asked to identify families with recently circumcised girls, Mr. Hart said.

Sudanese rebels reject total cease-fire

CAIRO Sudan's southern rebels are willing to halt attacks in the country's 19-year civil war if peace talks with the government resume, but the rebels reject a total cease-fire, a spokesman said Tuesday.

The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) "wants to make clear its position. We do not accept a cease-fire as proposed by the government," rebel spokesman Yasser Arman told AFP by telephone from Eritrea.

"We are ready to create a conducive atmosphere for the talks once they are resumed by observing restraint and not engaging in offensive actions what we call days of tranquility when the talks are actually in session," he said.

Heads roll in Dakar after big ferry disaster

DAKAR, Senegal A wave of self-doubt swept over this West African nation as government ministers resigned following last week's ferry disaster that claimed almost 1,000 lives.

"We are all hurting, but we are all responsible," said an editorial in the independent Sud Quotidien yesterday, a day after two ministers most closely associated with the tragedy Transport Minister Youssouph Sakho and Armed Forces Minister Youba Sambou tendered their resignations.

The sinking of the overloaded ferry off the coast of Gambia left only 64 survivors among the 1,034 people twice the vessel's capacity officially known to have been on board. Between 300 and 400 corpses, most unidentifiable, have been recovered; the others are thought to have perished on board, where the bodies remain trapped.

Weekly notes

Lucy Jones, a special correspondent for The Washington Times, has been expelled from the Central African Republic after being accused in a televised press conference of "destabilizing the state" for reporting that the country had signed a 99-year agreement for Libyan development of the CAR's mineral wealth. "The agreement concerns all resources, notably diamonds, gold, copper, iron and, if possible, oil," she quoted Mining Minister Andre Dorogo as saying during a taped interview in an article published by the Financial Times on Sept. 17.

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