- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 11, 2004

BURUNDI

Talks with rebels top U.N. priority

BUJUMBURA — Persuading Burundi’s last rebel group to enter talks to end 10 years of ethnic conflict is the top priority of a U.N. peacekeeping mission in the central African country, said mission leader Carolyn McAskie.

The world body began its latest peacekeeping effort on June 1 to end a civil war that has killed about 300,000 people and to help organize elections scheduled for later this year.

But political disagreements threaten to delay the vote, and the Hutu Forces for National Liberation (FNL) has continued its armed campaign while rejecting a plan for sharing power between the country’s Hutu majority and Tutsi minority.

“Solving the FNL problem is critical to army integration, elections and to giving Burundi the image of a place that is no longer at war,” Mrs. McAskie said.

MAURITANIA

Locusts clog ‘road of hope’

SANGARAFA — Desert locusts have clogged the main east-west highway in Mauritania known as the “road of hope,” compounding the misery wrought by the swarms on the massive northwest African country amid warnings of a food crisis that could lead to famine.

Forging southward in swarms that contain up to 80 million finger-length insects per square mile, the locusts seem to have converged along the highway, causing accidents and disrupting traffic as they crunch under the wheels of vehicles carrying would-be vacationers.

“Cannibalism among locusts is a fairly common occurrence, and when you have a dense population of dead insects you are likely to have quite a few coming to feed, irrespective of the location,” one local scientist said.

ZIMBABWE

Britain blamed for Olympics ban

HARARE — Zimbabwean Sports Minister Aeneas Chigwedere accused Britain yesterday of pressuring Greece into barring him from attending the Athens Olympics and described the decision as “completely out of order.”

“Olympics are an international event. They are not a European Union thing, they are not an African Union thing, they are like the U.N. In my view, it is completely out of order,” Mr. Chigwedere told Agence France-Presse.

EU member Greece announced on Tuesday that it would bar Mr. Chigwedere from attending the Olympics, in line with political sanctions against Zimbabwe for human and civil rights violations.

“We can’t force our way, but it does not make any sense that our team goes but the minister is not allowed. I know they were put under a lot of pressure by Britain,” the minister said.

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