- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 29, 2008


Mutinous soldiers to get back pay

CONAKRY - Guinea’s new prime minister announced a deal to pay mutinous soldiers eight years’ worth of back pay in a bid to bring the West African nation’s latest crisis to an end, but soldiers refused yesterday to release a top army official held hostage for three days.

Soldiers who seized the army’s second-in-command at Guinea’s largest military camp said they wanted to pressure their bosses to make good on their promises.

Conakry, the capital, was quiet yesterday for the first time since gunfire began echoing across the city Monday from military bases in town.

Prime Minister Ahmed Tidiane Souare had announced in a televised statement late Tuesday that the government would pay soldiers 5 million Guinean francs - about $1,100 - each for back pay and raises.

The West African nation had been tense since last week, when President Lansana Conte unexpectedly fired Prime Minister Lansana Kouyate. Soldiers said Mr. Kouyate had promised to pay soldiers years of back pay, and began revolting upon hearing rumors that they would not receive it.


Refugee camps planned for migrants

JOHANNESBURG - South Africa has decided to set up seven refugee camps for tens of thousands of African migrants who fled their homes during a wave of deadly xenophobic attacks, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported yesterday.

At least 56 people died and up to 100,000 were displaced when mobs armed with clubs, knives and stones, rampaged through shantytowns in Johannesburg, Cape Town and other parts of the country earlier this month.

The violence has subsided but there is mounting criticism of the government’s response to the crisis, which has tarnished the country’s image internationally.

Relief agencies and U.N. officials say they are shocked at conditions in makeshift shelters where thousands of Zimbabweans, Mozambicans and other migrants now live. Many are sleeping outside in temperatures that drop to near freezing at night.


Detained ex-leader vows cooperation

BRUSSELS - Former Democratic Republic of the Congo leader Jean-Pierre Bemba yesterday asked Belgian authorities to release him and vowed to cooperate with the International Criminal Court which ordered his arrest for purported war crimes.

The former vice president, 45, was arrested Saturday in a suburb of the Belgian capital on an ICC warrant, on four charges of war crimes and two of crimes against humanity in the Central African Republic.

He is blamed for a series of rapes and tortures said by victims to have been committed by his men in 2002 and 2003, when his forces fought against a coup attempt.

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