- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 17, 2008

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

President sworn in for third term

SANTO DOMINGO | President Leonel Fernandez promised to boost agriculture production but warned of dire economic times as he was sworn in Saturday for a third term.

The president said he asked legislators to approve $210 million to help farmers increase production, and boasted that unemployment has fallen to 14 percent from 20 percent in 2004.

Mr. Fernandez must contend with soaring food prices and fallout from the U.S. economic downturn, even as the government finances several costly projects, including a $710 million subway system in the capital.



BELARUS

Opposition leader freed from prison

MINSK | A Belarusian opposition leader who was jailed following the widely denounced presidential election in 2006 has been released, his daughter said Saturday.

Alexander Kozulin was arrested during a protest challenging the re-election of authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko and later sentenced to 5 1/2 years in a high-security prison. The U.S. and other Western countries have referred to him and other jailed opposition leaders as political prisoners.

Mr. Kozulin’s daughter Olga said he called Saturday to say he had been released. Mr. Kozulin himself could not be reached, and Belarusian authorities declined to comment.

TOGO

Body of ex-minister found on beach

LOME | The body of a former Togo government minister, Atsutse Kokouvi Agbobli, has been found washed up on a beach near the capital Lome, a member of his family said Saturday.

According to a statement issued by Togo’s state security department, Mr. Agbobli, 67, tried to commit suicide Wednesday, after swallowing a “dangerous” substance. He was found dead Friday.

Mr. Agbobli was minister of communications and later minister responsible for parliamentary affairs under the regime of Gen. Gnassingbe Eyadema, who died in February 2005.

IRAQ

Georgian troops replaced in Iraq

KUT | Iraqi and U.S. troops have replaced the Georgian contingent in Kut, south of the capital, that was withdrawn to face the crisis back home with Russia, the U.S. military said Saturday.

Georgian troops had manned a key checkpoint about 18 miles from Kut and patrolled the city.

Most of the 2,000-strong contingent, posted in Iraq since August 2003, have been rushed back to Georgia since Aug. 10 on U.S. military aircraft to support their comrades in battle with Russian forces.

BURMA

Activists sentenced for marking uprising

RANGOON | Five activists have been sentenced to 2 1/2 years in prison for marching on the 20th anniversary of pro-democracy protests that were crushed by Burma‘s military rulers, an opposition party official said Saturday.

The sentencing Friday came two days ahead of a visit by U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari, who is promoting democratic reforms in Burma.

The five were arrested in the northwestern state of Rakhine on Aug. 8 after a peaceful march marking the 1988 protests by more than 1 million people, which was brutally crushed by the military.

The activists were convicted of unlawful assembly and creating public alarm.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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