- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 17, 2003

GUINEA-BISSAU

Elected president agrees to step aside

BISSAU — President Kumba Yala, ousted in a military coup Sunday, said yesterday he has agreed to step down in the interest of the West African nation.

His recorded speech was broadcast over state media in the evening after a delegation from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) had met with him, coup leader Gen. Verissimo Correia Seabra, other military leaders, political figures and prominent civilians.



An ECOWAS statement said the armed forces had indicated they were not interested in power and would return to their barracks. A broad-base transitional government composed exclusively of civilians will be formed after consultations, it said.

The statement was signed by ministers from Cape Verde, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Nigeria and Senegal. Guinea-Bissau, a very poor country where the main foreign-exchange earner is cashew nuts, is heavily dependent on foreign aid.

ZIMBABWE

Police arrest 100 for public protest

HARARE, Zimbabwe — Police rounded up about 100 people in the capital yesterday for demonstrating against a government crackdown on dissent that has closed the nation’s only independent daily newspaper.

Three of those arrested were photojournalists covering the protest outside the parliament building in downtown Harare. The activists were taken to the city’s main police station, where they were expected to be held overnight, said Douglas Mwonzora, a spokesman for the National Constitutional Assembly, which organized the protest.

He said they were protesting the closure of the Daily News and “the deteriorating political and economic situation in Zimbabwe.” There was no comment from the government, which has routinely refused to let the National Constitutional Assembly hold public meetings and marches. Demonstrations in Zimbabwe must be cleared with police.

KENYA

Local firm to make drugs to fight AIDS

NAIROBI — A domestic drug company plans to start making anti-retroviral drugs to treat AIDS sufferers next month, becoming the first African company outside South Africa to do so, the company, Cosmos Pharmaceuticals, said yesterday.

Activists hope for a breakthrough in fighting the deadly disease by producing the life-prolonging drugs in Africa, where only a tiny minority can afford the imported versions. Kenya has about 2.2 million people infected with HIV, but only 7,000 currently receive anti-retrovirals.

“As soon as we get a go-ahead from the Kenyan government, maybe by next month, we will start making the drugs,” said Prakash Patel, managing director of Cosmos. He declined to say how much the drugs would cost. “They will be economical and affordable — at least better than whatever is being imported,” Mr. Patel said.

Weekly notes …

Ibrahim Coulibaly, one of the leaders of a 1999 coup in Ivory Coast who was arrested in Paris last month on suspicion of planning a new putsch, was freed on bail by a French court yesterday. Mr. Coulibaly was ordered to hand in his passport and report regularly to French police; five of six suspected accomplices were also freed. … The Nigerian government has warned former Liberian President Charles Taylor against interfering in his war-torn nation, a month after he accepted exile in Nigeria as part of an internationally backed peace deal. A government statement issued Tuesday evening also contained a veiled threat that Nigeria had not agreed to give Mr. Taylor immunity from a U.N.-backed war crimes tribunal in Sierra Leone, although it had said earlier it was under no legal obligation to turn him over to the tribunal.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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