- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 18, 2006

SOUTH AFRICA

4 armed robbers raid cathedral

JOHANNESBURG — Four armed robbers held up a priest during a raid on crime-ridden Johannesburg’s Roman Catholic cathedral yesterday, making off with cash and jewelry. They were unable to open the safe, but took whatever they could lay their hands on, the South African Press Agency reported.

Johannesburg’s Roman Catholic Archbishop Buti Tlhagale said interfaith church leaders pledged days earlier to work with their congregations to fight violence and crime.

“Violence and crime erode communal security and trust,” he said. “This latest incident reinforces the urgent need for effective measures to safeguard the dignity and value of persons.”

IVORY COAST

Rebels reject bid for Gbagbo extension

ABIDJAN — Rebels yesterday rejected an African Union call for President Laurent Gbagbo to lead the war-divided country for another year, saying this would obstruct long-delayed elections.

African heads of state meeting under AU auspices in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, Tuesday recommended a 12-month extension of Mr. Gbagbo’s expired mandate to organize elections in the world’s top cocoa producer.

Elections, already delayed from a year ago, were due by Oct. 31 but have been postponed by feuding between rival factions in the West African state, split since a 2002-03 civil war into a rebel-held north and government-held south.

KENYA

Panel to discuss Somalia peace talks

NAIROBI — Confounded by deteriorating conditions in Somalia, a U.S.-backed international panel is to meet here today to try to salvage peace talks between the weak government and powerful Islamists, officials said yesterday.

Fearing rising tensions and regional conflict, senior diplomats from the 11 members of the International Contact Group on Somalia are expected to urge the two sides to go ahead with a third round of talks in Sudan at the end of the month, they said.

The group will meet with transitional President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and Ibrahim Hassan Addow, the foreign affairs coordinator for the Supreme Islamic Council of Somalia, the officials said.

Weekly notes …

European countries spend vast sums trying to control the flow of Africans to their shores, but statistics show the money migrants send home is a lifeline for many governments and poor relatives left behind. Expatriate Africans sent home at least $6.7 billion to sub-Saharan Africa last year, Sanjeev Gupta, assistant director of the International Monetary Fund’s Africa department, said Tuesday. “In a way, it’s good because remittances are a lot more stable [than aid]. They are targeted at family members, so they are effective in terms of helping the poor,” he said. … Ethiopian security forces massacred 193 persons, triple the official death toll, during protests of the government after elections last year, a senior judge appointed to investigate said yesterday. Unarmed protesters were shot, beaten and strangled to death, said Wolde-Michael Meshesha, who has fled the country after receiving threats. Ethiopian officials refused to comment on either charge.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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