- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 13, 2006

SOUTH AFRICA

‘Dr. Death’ remains on government payroll

JOHANNESBURG — The apartheid-era operative called “Dr. Death” for his reputed role in plots to kill black activists is still on the South African military payroll, officials confirmed yesterday.

Gen. Wouter Basson, who once headed the white government’s germ warfare program, receives a monthly salary of 50,000 rand [$6,800] from the South African National Defense Force, even though he was suspended from the force in 1999, officials said.

“It’s a very complex labor issue that will be dealt with sooner rather than later,” Defense Secretary January Masilela said. Gen. Basson was acquitted in 2002 of multiple killings, drug trafficking, fraud and theft after one of the longest trials in South African history. He was accused of targeting anti-apartheid activists with screwdrivers concealing hypodermic needles and cigarettes laced with anthrax, among other invented weapons.

CONGO

Rivals meeting is first since violent clash

KINSHASA — Congolese President Joseph Kabila met with his chief election rival, Jean-Pierre Bemba, yesterday for the first time since poll-related violence in August.

Presidential spokesman Kudura Kasongo said the meeting involved a regular gathering between the president and his four deputies, of which Mr. Bemba is one. “The atmosphere is very relaxed,” Mr. Kasongo said afterward. Mr. Bemba was escorted to the presidential palace yesterday by soldiers from the U.N. mission.

It was the first meeting between the two political heavyweights since their forces clashed on the streets of Kinshasa on Aug. 20 and 22, after they had finished first and second in the first round of the July 30 presidential election. The two men are to face each other in a second round Oct. 29.

IVORY COAST

Toxic waste kills 6; doctors see thousands

ABIDJAN — The country’s toxic waste disaster worsened sharply yesterday, as French experts said it was urgent to remove the hundreds of tons of poisonous sludge dumped in the economic capital Abidjan and local doctors received nearly 16,000 calls for medical help.

“There were a total of 15,749 [medical] consultations by yesterday evening,” said Health Ministry spokesman Simeon N’Da. “Of these, 23 people have been hospitalized and six have died.” Four of the dead were children.

The Panama-registered ship Probo Koala, which dumped the toxic waste, tried to get rid of it in Amsterdam last month but was told it would have to pay more because of the overpowering stench.

Weekly notes …

A joint Euro-African effort to stop a tide of illegal African emigration to Spain’s Canary Islands has begun to yield results, officials said yesterday. Spain said the repatriation of illegal aliens to Senegal had resumed as ships, high-speed patrol boats and surveillance planes scanned the coast of West Africa and stopped another 186 would-be migrants en route to Europe. … Kenneth Kaunda, Zambia’s founding president, endorsed opposition candidate Hakainde Hichilema who is challenging President Levy Mwanawasa in Sept. 28 elections. The much-respected Mr. Kaunda said in a live radio interview that Mr. Hichilema, a businessman and relative newcomer, “is the right man for the job. Zambians should vote for him because he has leadership qualities.”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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