- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 5, 2006

ETHIOPIA

Somalia renews ties severed for 15 years

ADDIS ABABA — Somalia’s government has reopened its embassy in Ethiopia for the first time in 15 years, underscoring warming political ties between two Horn of Africa neighbors long wary of each other.

The embassy’s opening late Tuesday also shows Ethiopia’s links to Somalia’s interim president and prime minister, whose rise Addis Ababa backed during peace talks in Kenya where the Somali administration was formed in late 2004. That closeness helped split Somalia’s government and left it unable to impose authority on a country in anarchy since 1991.

“The reopening of the embassy marks the end of the artificial misunderstanding and animosity that has existed between the two countries,” Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Ali Gedi said at the opening ceremony.

UGANDA

Museveni rival’s treason trial begins

KAMPALA — Opposition leader Dr. Kizza Besigye sought an alliance with rebels of the notorious Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) to overthrow President Yoweri Museveni, the first witness to testify in his treason trial told a court yesterday.

The witness, a former opposition activist who backed Dr. Besigye in his unsuccessful 2001 bid to unseat Gen. Museveni, said she was sent by the president’s former personal physician to meet LRA commanders shortly after this year’s Feb. 23 Ugandan elections.

“[He] asked me to connect him to our brothers in the bush because I knew many of their commanders,” said Oryemo, speaking in the Acholi tribal language of northern Uganda. “I later … met a commander, and the message I delivered was that we should unite and fight Museveni’s government,” she said. She was the first of some 60 prosecution witnesses government lawyers have said they will call in the trial, which began Tuesday and is expected to last up to six months.

KENYA

Five teen boys face trial for rape

NAIROBI — A Kenyan court yesterday charged five teenage boys with rape in connection with an incident in which as many as 10 young girls were sexually assaulted outside a high school last month.

The five suspects, arrested March 29 after three purported victims identified them as their attackers, pleaded not guilty to rape and indecent-assault charges before a magistrate’s court in Nyeri, central Kenya.

“They were charged with rape and indecent assault and pleaded not guilty,” Central Province police commander Tom Mutisya told Agence France-Presse from Nyeri, some 60 miles north of Nairobi. “They were remanded into custody.” Nyeri chief magistrate Reuben Nyakundi said he would set a trial date for the boys tomorrow.

The purported rapes have provoked protests across this East African nation, where sexual offenses against women, particularly minors, are on the increase. At least half of all Kenyan women have experienced sexual violence after the age of 15, including by relatives, according to a health survey in 2003.

Weekly notes …

Tanzania’s only active volcano, Oldonyo le Ngai, has erupted, spewing smoke and ash into the country’s northern skies and causing brief panic among residents, an official said yesterday. The long-dormant 10,500-foot volcano, whose name means “Mountain of God” in Swahili, briefly shot plumes of detritus into the air late Sunday and again Monday, but no lava was reported, said Emmanuel Chausi, a conservation officer. Oldonyo le Ngai, about 100 miles west of Mount Kilimanjaro, last erupted in 1983. … Former West African warlord Charles Taylor, elected president of Liberia in 1997, must be treated humanely and given a fair trial for reputed crimes against humanity, Amnesty International insisted yesterday as he sought a defense team. Mr. Taylor, 58, who pleaded not guilty on Monday to 11 charges relating to atrocities in Sierra Leone’s brutal civil war, has been speaking with lawyers from the United States, Liberia and Ghana.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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