- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 19, 2002

Sahel region appears to reclaim desert

PARIS Countries across the southern rim of the Sahara are slowly pushing back the desert, according to satellite images that show a significant spurt of vegetation in the former wasteland, called the Sahel, New Scientist reports.

Geographers from Britain, Sweden and Denmark have spent months poring over a 15-year series of images and discovered that there has been considerable regrowth in southern Mauritania, northern Burkina Faso, northwestern Niger, central Chad, much of Sudan and parts of Eritrea, the British science weekly said.

"The gradual greening has been happening since the mid-1980s, though it has gone largely unnoticed," it says in its issue tomorrow.

At least 45 die in Nigeria factory fire

LAGOS, Nigeria At least 45 charred bodies have been recovered from a Nigerian plastics factory gutted by a fire that trapped an entire night shift, rescue workers said yesterday.

The Nigerian Red Cross said 37 bodies were retrieved Tuesday from the West African Rubber Products Company factory in Ikorodu, northeast of Lagos, the country's commercial center. Seven bodies were found Monday, police said. Rescuers said one worker died in a hospital.

Fire swept through the factory, run by Chinese, Malaysian, Philippine and Taiwanese managers, before dawn on Monday.

Nigerian newspapers have reported that hundreds are dead and scores of workers from a 250-person night shift are missing.

Kenyan opposition endorses Kibaki again

NAIROBI, Kenya An umbrella group of a dozen Kenyan opposition parties named former Vice President Mwai Kibaki yesterday as their candidate in a presidential election set for December, when Daniel arap Moi departs after 24 years in office.

The National Alliance Party of Kenya (NAK), the dominant force in the opposition, promised to form a national unity government to rid the country of the "corrupt" Kenya African National Union (KANU) and to prosecute all those who have robbed the state and force them to repay illicit earnings.

KANU has been in power since independence in 1963. Mr. Kibaki, 71, has twice lost presidential elections to the departing Mr. Moi, who has put his full weight behind Uhuru Kenyatta, 41, the politically inexperienced son of Kenya's founding president, Jomo Kenyatta.

Weekly notes

Sudan's special envoy Mahdi Ibrahim said in Johannesburg yesterday that Sudan People's Liberation Army rebels in the south must accept a cease-fire for the Khartoum government, which broke off talks on Sept. 2, to return to the negotiating table. Mr. Ibrahim added that the rebels must also withdraw from Torit, a garrison town they seized Sept. 1. Rioting between Muslims and Christians in the central Nigerian city of Jos last year left 915 persons dead, according to a report submitted yesterday to the state government. This inquiry panel figure is nearly twice the estimates published last year and comes amid renewed tension between the rival communities in Jos and Plateau State.

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