- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2003


Zimbabwean farmers may get idle land

LUANDA Authorities are considering inviting dispossessed white farmers from Zimbabwe to take over some of the thousands of Angolan farms abandoned during the country's 27-year civil war, reports said yesterday.

"We are not ruling out the possibility of welcoming these farmers," Dumilde Rangel, the governor of southwestern Benguela province, said in a radio broadcast. "They have the know-how, and if they could work here with us and create jobs, there will be no problem," he said.

Mr. Rangel said that about 4,500 farms have been abandoned in the Caimbambo region of Benguela province, and that 3 percent of rich farmland there is being worked, despite acute shortages of basic food. A cease-fire in April ended the civil war in which most of Angola's infrastructure was destroyed.


Northern party puts ex-putschist on ballot

ABUJA The country's main opposition party yesterday chose a former military ruler as its nominee for April presidential elections after his top rivals stormed from the party caucus in a dramatic, late-night protest.

Mohammed Buhari won the All Nigeria People's Party nomination after the five challengers abruptly withdrew from the contest minutes before midnight Tuesday, calling the process unfair. Mr. Buhari, a Muslim, has spoken in support of strict Sharia (Islamic law) being implemented in a dozen of the northern states, where his party is strong.

The April 19 elections are seen as a test for Nigeria's civilian government after 15 years of military rule. Since independence from Britain in 1960, Africa's most populous nation has never had a successful civilian power transfer.

Elections in 1964, 1983 and 1994 were scuttled by military coups that ousted the civilian winners from power within months. Shortly after the 1983 election, then-Maj. Gen. Buhari toppled President Shehu Shagari, only to be ousted in turn by Gen. Ibrahim Babangida in August 1985.

Weekly notes

Top officials from the 15-nation Economic Community of West African States mediating in the Ivory Coast conflict will meet in Benin on Monday to review their progress, Gen. Oumar Diarra of Mali said yesterday. The meeting will be led by Foreign Minister Tidiane Gadio of Senegal, whose country holds the regional group's rotating presidency. Uganda has appointed career diplomat Mull Katende as its ambassador to Sudan, marking restoration of full diplomatic ties. Official relations were severed in 1995 after the two neighbors accused each other of backing rebel groups hostile to their respective governments. Two months ago, Sudan confirmed the appointment of Mohammed Sirajuddin, who had served as charge d'affaires in Kampala since 2001, as its ambassador to Uganda.

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