- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 24, 2009


Gay death penalty proposal to be eased

KAMPALA | Uganda will soften proposed anti-gay legislation after an outcry in the West over a controversial bill that could have seen homosexuals put to death.

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Ethics and Integrity Minister Nsaba Buturo said the revised law would now probably limit the maximum penalty to life in prison.

“There have been a lot of discussions in government … but we now think a life sentence could be better because it gives room for offenders to be rehabilitated,” he told Reuters news agency. “Killing them might not be helpful.”

Uganda, long a darling of donors for its stable economy and widespread economic reforms, has come under intense pressure from Western nations to ease its anti-gay stance.

Under the original proposal “serial offenders” and those who commit “aggravated homosexuality” faced a death sentence.


U.N. council slaps sanctions

UNITED NATIONS | The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday approved an arms embargo and other tough sanctions against Eritrea for supplying weapons to opponents of the Somali government and refusing to resolve a border dispute with neighboring Djibouti.

The resolution, adopted by a vote of 13-1 with Libya voting “no” and China abstaining, bans the import and export of weapons to Eritrea and calls on U.N. member states to inspect all suspect air and sea cargo between the Red Sea nation and Somalia.

The resolution also imposes a travel ban on individuals - including Eritrea’s political and military leadership - who violate the arms embargo and obstruct a border settlement with Djibouti.


Junta promises early elections

CONAKRY | Guinea’s interim leader, Gen. Sekouba Konate, said Wednesday the junta wanted elections in the West African country at the “earliest possible” date.

Gen. Konate was addressing soldiers a year to the day after the army seized power in Guinea following the death of longtime ruler Lansana Conte.

“My dear brothers in arms, today our concern, for everybody, remains to lead [the nation] at the earliest possible date … to elections, the first free and democratic elections in our history,” he said.

“Nothing and nobody … can distract or distance us from this ideal.”

Guineans have no knowledge of the status of junta leader Capt. Moussa Dadis Camara since he was shot in the head by his aide de camp Dec. 3. The junta has said he remains in a hospital in Morocco, is recovering and plans to return home soon.


Rival leaders show progress

HARARE | President Robert Mugabe and his rival-turned-prime minister held a collegial end-of-year news conference Wednesday, but they did not announce any resolution of issues that have undermined their partnership.

Earlier this week, aides announced that agreements on commissions to oversee human rights, the media and elections had been reached during a meeting of Mr. Mugabe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

The three joked and laughed during the news conference but disagreements remain over the appointment of provincial governors, the central bank chief and attorney general; over charges from Mr. Tsvangirai’s party that Mugabe supporters continue to abuse human rights; and over charges from Mr. Mugabe’s party that Mr. Tsvangirai’s group has done too little to persuade the inter- national community to lift sanctions against the president and his top loyalists.

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