- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 23, 2003


Traditional leaders demand more power

BENONI — Traditional chiefs and local kings yesterday denounced government plans they said would limit them to ceremonial roles, stirring an argument that often has provoked bloodshed.

Leaders aligned with the opposition Inkatha Freedom Party and those siding with the ruling African National Congress (ANC) said at a national conference they are unhappy with the draft rules, which they fear will sideline them politically.

Arguments over the roles of hereditary leaders in a democratic South Africa have long been a source of political tension. They control vast tracts of communal land and enjoy the loyalty of many.

Delegates to a conference of the National House of Traditional Leaders said they want a voice in policies, including those on land allocation, mining, food distribution and the conservation of wildlife. They said the ANC is dragging its feet on legislation to clarify their position.


Rival groups discuss implementing truce

BUNIA — Fival rival armed groups in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeast Ituri region met yesterday to work on implementing a cease-fire they had signed four months ago.

“The point of this meeting is to apply the Dar es Salaam accord,” Leo Salmeron, spokesman for the United Nations’ mission in Congo told Agence France-Presse in Bunia, the main town in Ituri. The Dar es Salaam agreement, signed May 16, calls for the signatories to respect a truce that had been agreed on March 18 and that has been flouted repeatedly. Those at the meeting also were “working toward ending hostilities, and cantoning, disarming and demobilizing troops,” Mr. Salmeron said.


Rebel suspect sent home by Senegal

NOUAKCHOTT — The judge investigating an abortive military coup last month confirmed this week that one of the rebel suspects has been extradited from Senegal.

Human rights groups in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, said Sunday that they were concerned that Lt. Didi Ould M’Hamed would face torture and perhaps death in Mauritania. The investigating judge, Mohamed Abdellahi Ould Babana, said the lieutenant would be given a fair trial in a regular court.

He is accused of taking part in a coup attempt in which army officers sought to wrest power from President Maaouiya Ould Taya.

Weekly notes …

Peace talks between Sudan’s warring factions will not resume this week, but mediators in Kenya said they had invited rebels and the government to restart negotiations Aug. 3. Talks in Kenya between the government in Khartoum and the southern Sudan People’s Liberation Army had reached a final stage, but the Sudan government is angry about proposals by mediators on such issues as wealth sharing, the structure of the army and the status of the capital. … Malawi’s agriculture minister said yesterday that the country this year harvested nearly 2 million tons of corn — enough for local needs — a year after a devastating drought. Chakufwa Chihana said more than 1.9 million tons of maize, a national staple, have been harvested this year. Poor rain, then floods, devastated crops and caused widespread food shortages last year, and as late as March, 3 million Malawians still were getting emergency food aid.

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