- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 16, 2005

ZIMBABWE

Government opposes mercenaries’ release

HARARE — The government urged the Supreme Court yesterday to overturn a lower court decision for the early release of 62 admitted mercenaries jailed a year ago over a coup plot in oil-rich Equatorial Guinea, their attorney said.

“The … judgment will be handed down by Monday,” said Alwyn Griebenow, attorney for the mercenaries. The Harare High Court reduced their 12-month sentences two weeks ago to eight months, but the government objected, saying foreigners are not entitled to suspended sentences because their promise of good behavior cannot be monitored.

Zimbabwe and South African authorities said the men were on their way to Equatorial Guinea to overthrow strongman Teodoro Obiang Nguema. Mark Thatcher, who admitted helping finance the plot, was convicted by a South African court of violating its anti-mercenary laws and paid a $505,000 fine.

CONGO

AU plans to disarm marauders in the east

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — The African Union said yesterday it plans to send 6,000 or 7,000 troops to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to help disarm militias threatening peace in the region.

The AU said the presence of militiamen originally from neighboring Rwanda and other marauding gunmen in eastern Congo remains a major source of tension and instability in central Africa’s Great Lakes region.

Said Djinnit, the AU commissioner for peace and security, told a press conference the Congo plan is still in its early stages and he could not give any details on deployment. Funding for the mission has yet to be secured, he added.

CENTRAL AFRICAN REPUBLIC

Bozize ousts No. 2 as vote count stalls

BANGUI — President Francois Bozize has fired Vice President Abel Goumba, a rival for the presidency in an election under way, national radio reported yesterday.

Shortly before the Tuesday night decree, which followed voting in presidential and parliamentary elections on Sunday, Mr. Goumba joined opposition politicians in accusing Gen. Bozize, who seized power in a coup two years ago, of rigging the poll.

Insufficient results from Sunday’s voting have been issued by the national voting authority to give a clear indication of who is ahead in the presidential race.

Weekly notes

U.N. soldiers in Liberia will quash any disorder arising from the suspension of a former rebel leader as parliament speaker over charges of graft, a senior U.N. official said yesterday. Speaker George Dweh, a founding member of one of the main rebel groups, vowed yesterday to defy the suspension order, threatening a showdown. Jacques Klein, the top U.N. official in the country, said the mission would deal with any violence “firmly and decisively.” … Nigeria yesterday proposed a new African panel to hear cases of atrocities in Sudan’s Darfur region, as Europeans and the United States were deadlocked at the United Nations over calling in the International Criminal Court. In a note to the European Union, Nigeria proposed an “African panel for criminal justice and reconciliation” to prosecute those suspected of war crimes in Darfur and provide for reconciliation. It said Sudan backs the proposal.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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