- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2005

BRITAIN

Blair wants aid to Africa doubled

LONDON — British Prime Minister Tony Blair yesterday challenged the world to help end the poverty, conflict and disease plaguing Africa as he unveiled a major international report on how to ease the continent’s woes.

The 400-page report from the Africa Commission calls on the international community to immediately double foreign aid to Africa to $50 billion and make fighting AIDS a priority. It sets 100 percent debt cancellation as a goal and urges rich nations to drop trade barriers that hurt poor countries. It also says African leaders must move more quickly toward democracy and stamp out corruption.

PAKISTAN

Court reinstates convictions in rape

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s highest Islamic court yesterday reinstated the convictions of five men sentenced to death for raping a woman on orders from a village council, following a firestorm of criticism after a lower tribunal ordered the suspects freed.

The decision by the Federal Shariah Court was yet another twist in the case of Mukhtar Mai, a 33-year-old woman who said she was raped in 2002 after elders in her village ordered the attack as punishment for her brother’s alleged illicit affair with a woman from another family.

“We welcome the decision, and we know our case is strong,” said Ramzan Khalid Joya, Miss Mai’s lawyer. An attorney for the men, Mohammed Yaqub, said he had not had time to study the decision and would have no comment.

Six men, including village elder Faiz Mastoi, were sentenced to death in 2002, but on March 3 the sentences of five of them were overturned. The sixth man had his death sentence reduced to life in prison.

LEBANON

Syrian troops leave north

BEIRUT — The last Syrian troops left northern Lebanon yesterday but intelligence agents remained in nine offices, while the U.N. Middle East envoy said Syria needs to produce a timetable for a full withdrawal from the rest of Lebanon.

Under international pressure, Syria this week began pulling its 14,000 troops back to the eastern Bekaa Valley. It is to negotiate with the government on their withdrawal from Lebanon at a later date.

Convoys of Syrian trucks, some towing artillery pieces, were seen driving Thursday night toward northern Syria.

NEPAL

Ex-premier freed from house arrest

KATMANDU — Nepal’s authorities freed a former prime minister from house arrest yesterday, 5 weeks after the king of this Himalayan country dismissed the government and declared emergency rule.

The decision to free Sher Bahadur Deuba came two days before Nepal’s foreign minister was to attend a U.N. human rights conference in Geneva, and after opposition politicians staged their first successful street protest earlier this week.

Police also freed another 18 political detainees from prison, a government official said.

CONGO

U.N. troops raid village for militiamen

BUNIA — Hundreds of United Nations troops backed by helicopter gunships swooped into a village in northeast Congo yesterday but failed to find militia fighters blamed for killing nine peacekeepers, officials said.

The operation, launched just before dawn at Penie, about 16 miles northeast of the region’s main city of Bunia, had aimed to hunt down the killers of the nine Bangladeshi U.N. soldiers who died in an ambush last month, U.N. sources said.

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