- The Washington Times - Wednesday, August 31, 2005

IVORY COAST

Rebels reject Pretoria mediation

ABIDJAN — The rebel New Forces announced yesterday in a statement to Agence France-Presse that they refuse any mediation by South African President Thabo Mbeki in this country’s three-year conflict.

“Starting today, the New Forces completely reject the South African mediation in the Ivory Coast,” the group said in a statement signed by spokesman Sidiki Konate. It called on Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo, current leader of the African Union, to organize mediation for Ivory Coast.

Mr. Mbeki, chosen by the African Union to handle the conflict that has divided Ivory Coast, is accused by the rebels of being motivated by economic expansionism.

SOUTH AFRICA

Zimbabwe meltdown worries key neighbor

CAPE TOWN — The economic collapse of Zimbabwe would not be in the interest of the continent or of humanity, South African Foreign Affairs Minister Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said yesterday.

“We do not want a meltdown in Zimbabwe. … Who has to gain from a total collapse in Zimbabwe? None of us, not South Africa, not Zimbabwe, not Africa, not humanity,” she told Parliament.

“Zimbabwe consists of millions and millions of Zimbabweans, so we must not lose sight of that and try Zimbabwe as though we are talking about one person,” Mrs. Dlamini Zuma said in what appeared to be a reference to President Robert Mugabe.

NIGERIA

Counterterror bill sent to legislature

ABUJA — The Cabinet approved draft counterterrorism legislation and sent it to the National Assembly yesterday, Information Minister Frank Nweke said, revealing a bill making it easier for the government to ban radical groups and arrest their members.

Under the legislation, anyone convicted of a terrorist offense can be sentenced to up to 35 years in jail, according to a partial copy of the draft shown to reporters.

Weekly notes

The World Food Program is struggling to feed the hungry in southern Africa as corn prices soar after a severe drought, the U.N. body’s regional chief, Mike Sackett, said yesterday in Johannesburg. The WFP says it plans to feed at least 8.5 million people by the start of the lean season in December, but because of a funding shortfall of $187 million, “only a fraction will receive it.” … A million Libyans converged on banner-festooned Tripoli yesterday to celebrate the 36th anniversary of Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s seizure of power. Then 27, he and other officers toppled King Idris on Sept. 1, 1969. Col. Gadhafi was expected to address throngs in the Libyan capital late yesterday or early today.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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