- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 16, 2003


Tense capital awaits arrival of neighbors

MONROVIA — Impatience grew in the Liberian capital yesterday for the arrival of a promised West African force meant to ensure calm as President Charles Taylor steps down and possibly clear the way for U.S. troops.

President Bush has said a small U.S. force might be sent once Mr. Taylor goes. The elected president and former warlord insists he will take up a Nigerian offer of asylum only after the regional force arrives.

West African leaders had hoped to get soldiers here by July 20, but African diplomats told Reuters news agency the arrival is unlikely before security chiefs meet in Senegal Monday. There also is no sign of the cease-fire monitoring team that was supposed to have arrived weeks ago.


Junta takes over in bloodless coup

LISBON — A junta that seized power in Sao Tome and Principe yesterday announced the dissolution of all state bodies, Portuguese television reported, citing state television in the small west African island state.

The new “junta of national salvation” announced that no one was killed or injured in the predawn coup in the former Portuguese colony, adding that “former titleholders are under the tutelage of the junta, and their full physical integrity is assured,” according to Portugal’s Lusa news agency.

The islands, which have been mired in poverty since independence from Portugal in 1975, are believed to sit on as much as 4 billion barrels of petroleum. The tiny nation stands to earn more than $108 million next year after selling nine offshore oil-mining permits in the Gulf of Guinea.

The junta vowed to respect democratic principles and urged other countries not to intervene in the crisis, Lusa said.


Ruberwa arrives to join government

KINSHASA — The leader of Congo’s largest rebel group arrived here in the capital yesterday, a day before he was to be sworn in as one of four vice presidents in a government intended to end nearly five years of war.

Azarias Ruberwa, leader of the Rwanda-backed Congolese Rally for Democracy — Goma (RCD-Goma), will join a new government aimed at leading the country to democratic elections and at ending a war that has killed more than 3 million people.

His arrival ended uncertainty about whether he would take up his role in the transitional government after disputes over security arrangements and the divvying up of Congo’s military districts. Fighting continues in the east of the vast country, and there are fears that it could jeopardize the accord.

Weekly notes …

Rwandan President Paul Kagame, 46, promised this week to share power with political opponents if he wins the Aug. 25 presidential election, the first since a 1994 genocide in which at least 800,000 people were killed. He has played a dominant role in Rwandan politics since his Tutsi army seized Kigali in 1994 after three months of slaughter orchestrated by extremists from the Hutu majority. … The Nigerian Senate said yesterday that it will investigate accusations that police killed protesters during demonstrations this month against a fuel price increase. News organizations and residents say dozens of people were fatally shot by the police in Lagos and the capital, Abuja, during the eight-day strike, and some newspapers and television stations showed images of the purported victims. Police have denied the killings.

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