- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 20, 2008


Mugabe opponents terrorized, report says

HARARE — President Robert Mugabe’s supporters have used violence to intimidate opponents in the run-up to next week’s Zimbabwe election, undermining chances of a fair vote, Human Rights Watch said in a report yesterday.

Mr. Mugabe faces the strongest challenge to his 28-year rule in presidential, parliamentary and municipal elections on March 29 because of defections by senior ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front party officials and a deepening economic crisis.

Opposition groups have accused Mr. Mugabe, who has ruled since independence from Britain in 1980, of rigging previous elections, accusations he denies.


Battles erupt in capital

MOGADISHU — Battles erupted in Somalia’s capital yesterday between Islamist rebels and Ethiopian troops backing the government a day after the United Nations said it was still too dangerous to send peacekeepers there.

Witnesses in northern Mogadishu said three Ethiopian soldiers and at least one insurgent were killed as both sides traded heavy machine-gun fire, grenades and artillery barrages.

Late Tuesday, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said insecurity in Somalia made it too dangerous to deploy a U.N. peacekeeping force there until far-reaching political and military conditions were met.

The African Union has called on the world body to send troops to replace a small AU mission and help the country’s interim government fend off the Islamist insurgency.


Park official held in gorilla killings

GOMA — A Virunga National Park official accused of ordering a gorilla slaughter in 2007 was arrested Tuesday, local authorities said.

Honore Mashagiro, head of the southern section of the park who also works with the Congolese conservation institute ICCN, was arrested in Goma, the capital of Nord-Kivu province, provincial Environment Minister Felicite Kalume said.

He is suspected of having “orchestrated the slaughter of mountain gorillas last year,” the environment minister said. The killings left nearly 10 of the animals dead in the forest.

Classified as a world heritage site by UNESCO, the Virunga park shelters more than half the approximately 700 remaining mountain gorillas still living in the wild.


Parliament backs power-sharing deal

NAIROBI — Kenya’s parliament on Tuesday unanimously approved a power-sharing deal designed to end the postelection crisis that has left at least 1,000 people dead in the East African country.

Legislators passed the legal changes needed for a coalition government, in which President Mwai Kibaki can bring in rival Raila Odinga as prime minister after their agreement last month. From wire dispatches and staff reports

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