- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 8, 2005


U.S., allies begin military drills

DAKAR — U.S. forces began military training exercises with allies across western Africa this week, part of a stepped-up campaign against terrorism on the continent, a spokeswoman said yesterday.

The two-week training initiative began Monday in Chad, Mauritania, Mali, Niger and, for the first time, Algeria. The latter venue took on added urgency after Islamic insurgents linked to al Qaeda carried out a weekend raid into Mauritania that left 24 persons dead.

Algeria’s Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat, which has been linked to al Qaeda and termed a terrorist organization by the United States, took responsibility for Saturday’s attack on a remote Mauritanian army outpost that left 15 troops and nine insurgents dead. It was the kind of violence the training exercises are intended to avert.


Opposition warns of ballot boycott

ABIDJAN — An Ivory Coast opposition coalition threatened this week to boycott the Oct. 30 presidential vote seen as a key to the country’s emergence from political crisis if it is organized by “political structures” now in place.

The G7 coalition, which groups the political opposition and rebels holding the northern part of the country, accused the government of Laurent Gbagbo of trying to thwart a fair election.

The statement “declares null and useless all decisions taken by head of state Laurent Gbagbo concerning the preparation and organization of elections” — notably the presidential election in five months. The coalition is irritated by a Gbagbo decree last month giving himself full powers while authorizing all signatories to a long-dormant January 2003 peace pact to be eligible to run.


Summit ends with goals unmet

BRAZZAVILLE — Leaders of 11 central African states wound up a summit yesterday, apparently no nearer achieving the integration they set as a goal more than 20 years ago.

Only four heads of state turned up at the annual meeting of the Economic Community of Central African States, which groups Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Republic of the Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Rwanda, and Sao Tome and Principe.

Though they possess vast mineral, oil and forest wealth, many of the members are politically unstable and 57 percent of the populationsuffers food shortages and hunger, the United Nations reports.

Weekly notes

A South African court sentenced a Durban businessman with ties to Deputy President Jacob Zuma to 15 years in prison yesterday after finding him guilty of corruption and bribery in a verdict that could undermine Mr. Zuma’s presidential ambitions. Judge Hilary Squires gave Schabir Shaik 15 years for two counts of corruption and three years for fraud, with the sentences to run concurrently. … Eleven babies have died at a hospital in an Indian quarter of South Africa’s eastern port city of Durban in the past two weeks, prompting the closure of the neonatal intensive-care unit, the South African Press Association reports. The deaths occurred at the Mahatma Gandhi hospital, where India’s independence hero had set up a collective farm where he forged his nonviolence movement that let to India’s independence from Britain in 1947.

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