- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 10, 2009

GUINEA

Junta suspends talks with opponents

CONAKRY | Guinea’s military junta has suspended negotiations with the opposition on the country’s political crisis until the return of its wounded leader, a junta spokesman said Wednesday.

Communications Minister Idrissa Cherif said the talks meant to find a solution to the country’s political stalemate have not been canceled, but would be put on hold for the foreseeable future.

Discussions were under way in neighboring Burkina Faso and mediated by that country’s president after the September massacre, which human rights groups say killed at least 157 people.

Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara, who grabbed power in an army-led coup a year ago, suffered a bullet wound to his head last week when his top aide opened fire on him during a heated argument. He is in Morocco.

MAURITANIA

Al Qaeda group says hostages OK

CAIRO | An al Qaeda offshoot that has claimed responsibility for kidnapping three Spaniards and a Frenchman in West Africa last month said Wednesday that the four Europeans were in good health and treated according to Islamic laws.

The group’s demands would be announced later, al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb said.

“The hostages are in good health, being treated according to Islamic Shariah and France and Spain will be informed later of the mujahedeen legitimate demands,” the group said in a statement posted Wednesday on an Islamic Web site.

The statement’s authenticity could not be verified immediately, but it was posted on an Islamic Web site that publishes statements and video footage by al Qaeda and other militant groups.

ZIMBABWE

Red Cross seeks $32 million for food

JOHANNESBURG | The Red Cross says it needs $32 million to feed 220,000 Zimbabweans who cannot access hard currency in the collapsed economy.

Red Cross Zimbabwe representative Stephen Omollo said Wednesday that the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is appealing for the money to help Zimbabweans living in rural areas without access to U.S. dollars in an economy that has switched from the Zimbabwean dollar to hard currency.

Mr. Omollo said markets have food but people can’t afford to buy it. The Red Cross is distributing food vouchers that vendors can exchange later for cash.

The United Nations also appealed this week for $378 million in aid for Zimbabwe, but said the situation has improved somewhat under a 10-month-old coalition government.

NIGERIA

Police roadblocks: Pay bribe or die

JOHANNESBURG | Beware of police roadblocks in Nigeria: If you cannot pay a bribe, you can end up dead, according to an Amnesty International report published Wednesday.

It highlights a new danger in a country regularly denounced as one of the most corrupt in the world, where taking bribes long has been a way for poorly paid government workers to make ends meet.

Nigeria’s police force is poorly paid and trained, and is short of essential tools including bulletproof vests, fuel, paper and pens, Amnesty International said. But there appears to be no shortage of the bullets its officers use to kill people they are supposed to protect, the report said.

Emmanuel Ojukwu, the national police spokesman, told the Associated Press that “extrajudicial killing is not approved in Nigeria.”

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