Thursday, December 17, 2009


Guard chief admits to shooting president

CONAKRY | Guinea’s former presidential guard chief said Wednesday he shot the country’s military strongman earlier this month because the junta leader wanted him to take the blame for a massacre by troops of pro-democracy demonstrators in September.

Lt. Abubakar “Toumba” Diakite told Radio France International that he shot Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara on Dec. 3 because the junta leader betrayed the democracy of the West African nation.

“I shot him because at a certain point, there was a complete betrayal in my view, a total betrayal of democracy. [Capt. Camara] tried to blame me for the events of Sept. 28,” Lt. Diakite told RFI in his first broadcast comments since the assassination attempt. “I will not turn myself in because they do not want the truth to be known. They’d prefer to kill me.”

The former presidential guard commander, who is accused of shooting Capt. Camara at point-blank range after an argument, remains at large, and it is not clear how many of the roughly 150 men once under his control will stay loyal to him.

Lt. Diakite said Capt. Camara ordered the Sept. 28 massacre at a pro-democracy rally where numerous witnesses and several human rights groups says 157 people were killed and soldiers dragged women to the ground and raped them in broad daylight.


Ex-health minister in AIDS row dies

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa’s former health minister, Manto Tshabalala-Msimang, who gained notoriety for her dogged promotion of lemons, garlic and olive oil to treat AIDS, has died. She was 69.

The ruling African National Congress said Ms. Tshabalala-Msimang died in a Johannesburg hospital Wednesday from complications related to a 2007 liver transplant.

During Ms. Tshabalala-Msimang’s eight years in office, the minister was responsible for some advances in South African health care. But her disastrous policies on HIV made her the most unpopular government minister in post-apartheid South Africa. She was ridiculed locally and internationally and nicknamed “Dr. Beetroot” - another one of her suggested AIDS remedies - and “Dr. Garlic.”

Ms. Tshabalala-Msimang had a loyal defender in a close friend, then-President Thabo Mbeki, not least because of his own doubts about the link between HIV and AIDS.

Ms. Tshabalala-Msimang and Mr. Mbeki have been blamed for not preventing more than 300,000 deaths, according to a study by Harvard University. There have been calls by some activists for them to be charged with genocide.

South Africa, a nation of about 50 million, has the world’s largest number of HIV cases with about 5.7 million people infected with the virus.


ANC tries to rein in youth leader

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa’s ruling party is trying to rein in a young firebrand who is sowing discord among its old Communist allies, threatening President Jacob Zuma’s efforts to build unity as the country grapples with economic recession.

Fearing the spat may get worse, the African National Congress on Tuesday rebuked Julius Malema, president of the ANC’s Youth League, for his attacks against the South African Communist Party. ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said anyone who defies ANC orders not to fuel tensions must explain himself in a disciplinary hearing.

Mr. Malema’s actions have created a stir because the ANC Youth League, once led by Nelson Mandela long before he became president, is a powerful lobbying group within the ruling party and sees itself as a king maker.

Some observers say the latest tensions are a result of a succession battle that has already started over who will replace Mr. Zuma, who was inaugurated only last May. Mr. Malema is opposed to the growing influence of communists in the ANC and wants to keep Communist party leaders from rising to power.


Actor acquitted of genocide

KIGALI | A renowned Rwandan actor sentenced to 19 years for genocide by the country’s traditional Gacaca courts was acquitted Wednesday on appeal, state radio announced.

Dismas Mukeshabatware was sentenced on Oct. 28 on charges of murdering a woman and her three children in 1994 in the southern town of Butare.

A Gacaca appeals court in Butare ruled that he “played no role in the killing” and “ordered his immediate release,” Radio Rwanda reported.

Mr. Mukeshabatware was a member of Radio Rwanda’s renowned Indamutsa theater troupe, for which he wrote plays and acted leading roles.

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