- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 21, 2007

AFRICAN UNION

EU ‘double standard’ against Mugabe hit

BRUSSELS — The African Union denounced yesterday the “double standards” of the European Union in taking action against Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe while ignoring abuses by other African leaders.

“I would have preferred that there were no double standards at the European level, even for judging heads of state,” the AU Ambassador Mahamat Annadif told reporters here.

“We talk about Zimbabwe, but for me there are other heads of state who are just as important to avoid as Mugabe, but they have support … which means that today, no one says a word to them,” he said. He put some of the inconsistency down to Britain’s attitude to its former colony, which was to make Zimbabwe “its problem.”

CONGO

Bemba loyalists defy order to disarm him

KINSHASA — Fighters loyal to Congolese ex-rebel leader and former presidential candidate Jean-Pierre Bemba will defy a government order to disarm until his security is assured, a top adviser said Wednesday.

U.N. forces deployed armored vehicles and hundreds of peacekeepers near Mr. Bemba’s residence here on Tuesday to try to prevent clashes between government soldiers and Bemba loyalists.

President Joseph Kabila’s government last week ordered Mr. Bemba’s forces to begin integrating into the national army or disband after elections last year ended a three-year transition during which he served as a vice president.

BRITAIN

Blair seeks tougher Zimbabwe sanctions

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair said yesterday Britain would urge the European Union to impose tougher sanctions on Zimbabwe, describing the situation there as “appalling, disgraceful and utterly tragic.”

“We will press the European Union to widen the political sanctions that were introduced in 2002 and introduced very much as a result of our prompting at the time,” Mr. Blair told Parliament during his weekly question-and-answer session.

He echoed Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett’s view that in the light of growing concern about violence toward opposition groups, action is needed from the United Nations Security Council and the U.N. Human Rights Commission.

Weekly notes …

A rebel leader from Sudan’s war-torn Darfur region said in an interview in Paris that the United Nations must either protect the area’s residents or arm them so they can defend themselves. “These are the only two options,” Abdul Wahid Mohammed Nur told Agence France-Presse on Tuesday. … A bridge collapsed under a truck packed with dozens of people, killing at least 70 on Sunday, Guinea state radio reported yesterday. The truck was carrying people and goods from a market near Gueckedou; as it crossed the bridge, the 50-year-old stone structure caved in, causing the truck to tip passengers into the river, along with bags of cement and sacks of rice. Many of the dead were trapped under the merchandise and drowned, state radio said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports.

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