- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2009

GUINEA-BISSAU

Presidential vote moved to June 28

BISSAU | The election to pick a successor to assassinated Guinea-Bissau President Joao Bernardo Vieira has been postponed to June 28, the government announced Wednesday.

Under the constitution the presidential election must be held within 60 days of the president’s death, which would put the vote in early May, although no official date was set.

Mr. Vieira was killed by soldiers March 2 in an apparent reprisal for the killing of the army’s chief of staff Gen. Batista Tagme Na Waie in a bomb attack a day earlier.

Guinea-Bissau has been wracked by coups and political unrest since gaining independence from Portugal in 1974. In recent years the West African country has achieved notoriety as a transit point for the cocaine trade between South America and Europe, raising the stakes in long-running power feuds between political and military leaders.

In the aftermath of Mr. Vieira’s assassination, National Assembly Speaker Raimundo Pereira became interim president.

SEYCHELLES

Pirates seize luxury boat

VICTORIA | Pirates captured a luxury boat operating in the Indian Ocean archipelago of Seychelles after it dropped off tourists on one of its islands, officials said Wednesday.

It was not clear who the pirates were or when the Indian Ocean Explorer was seized with its seven Seychellois crew members and believed to be sailing toward the Somali coast, officials said.

Last week, the islands’ police chief said three Seychellois sailors had been held hostage by Somali pirates since their catamaran was hijacked in late February. They had left the archipelago on Feb. 28 for Madagascar.

ANGOLA

Witchcraft abuse to be probed

LUANDA | Angola is to investigate cases of children being accused of witchcraft, state media said Wednesday, after Pope Benedict XVI condemned the practice during a recent visit.

The pontiff spoke out about the problem of abuse linked to some traditional religions during a Mass in the southern African country last month.

In one case last year, 40 children, some just babies, were rescued from a “church” in the capital Luanda after being held for 15 days, during which they were starved, burned and had perfume rubbed in their eyes, state media said.

NIGERIA

Suspects get bail in drug deaths

LAGOS | A Nigerian court Tuesday released on bail three suspects facing murder charges for producing an adulterated teething drug that killed 84 children.

The three, who have been in custody since their first appearance in court on March 5, are employees of Barewa Pharmaceuticals, manufacturer of the teething drug “My Pikin.”

Lagos High Court Judge Ikechukwu Okeke said each man should deposit the equivalent of $69,000. The suspects - Kola Okunola, Adeyemo Abiodun and Egbele Eromosele - also must appear in court on May 4 for the next hearing.

The children, ages between 2 months and 7 years, died from renal failure after taking the painkiller that was later discovered to contain high levels of diethylene glycol, a poisonous solvent mostly used in brake fluid and as an engine coolant.

SUDAN

Bashir performs Saudi pilgrimage

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia | Sudanese President Omar Bashir arrived in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday to perform a Muslim pilgrimage, in another show of defiance against an international arrest warrant for purported war crimes.

Two days after receiving strong support from Arab nations for his fight against the warrant, during an Arab summit in Qatar, Gen. Bashir arrived in Jidda to perform the umrah, or minor pilgrimage, in the holy city of Mecca, the official Saudi Press Agency reported.

Gen. Bashir was received at Jidda’s King Abdulaziz International Airport by Jidda Gov. Prince Mishal bin Abdul Aziz. A Saudi Foreign Ministry official said it was a private visit, noting that Saudi King Abdullah and many top officials were in London for the Group of 20 meeting of major economic powers

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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