- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 1, 2009


Rights campaigner to remain in jail

HARARE | A respected human rights campaigner and 31 other activists in Zimbabwe will remain in jail over New Year’s after a High Court judge postponed an application for their release until Friday.

Zimbabwe Peace Project leader Jestina Mukoko and the other detainees are accused of plotting to overthrow President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power since 1980.

Opposition leaders say the detentions are part of Mr. Mugabe’s clampdown on pro-democracy activists and are further evidence of his determination to keep control of his stricken nation in defiance of a power-sharing agreement.

Once a source of regional pride, Zimbabwe has been crippled by galloping hyperinflation — one egg now costs 300 million Zimbabwe dollars. There is mass unemployment and worsening malnutrition, and the country’s education and health systems are collapsing. A cholera epidemic has killed more than 1,600 people since August.


Court hears Darfur spy case

KHARTOUM | A Sudanese court has given a Sudanese man accused of passing classified information to an international court investigating Darfur war crimes more time to prepare his defense.

Mohammed al-Sirri is the first Sudanese to face charges in Sudan of collaborating with the International Criminal Court investigating Darfur crimes.

He has pleaded not guilty and claimed he confessed under duress. Court officials said Tuesday that Mr. al-Sirri’s trial is postponed until Sunday so he can prepare for his defense.

Prosecutors charged Mr. al-Sirri in connection with the case of Sudanese official Ahmed Harun. The ICC issued an arrest warrant for Harun on charges of crimes against humanity. But Sudan has refused to turn him over to the Dutch-based tribunal.


Mortars hit market after president quits

MOGADISHU | Mortars slammed into a busy market in Somalia’s capital Tuesday, witnesses said, as the country’s weak government crumbled and the impending pullout of allied Ethiopian troops raised fears that Islamic insurgents might seize the opportunity to take over.

At least 10 people were killed in the market attack, witnesses said.

The fighting began after Islamic insurgents attacked bases of government soldiers and African Union peacekeepers, said Salado Mohamed Farah, a shop owner at Bakara market. He said mortars fired in retaliation hit the market, which the government has accused the insurgents of using as a base.

President Abdullahi Yusuf’s resigned last week after four years in office, admitting that Islamist rebels now control most of the country.


Anti-rebel troops deployed against LRA

KAMPALA | Three African nations are deploying troops to remote eastern Congo after reports that Ugandan rebels killed more than 400 people in a series of massacres since Christmas, officials said Wednesday.

A Catholic charity, Caritas, cited reports by its staff in the region that the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has killed hundreds of people since Dec. 25. The rebels and the Ugandan government have accused each other of being behind recent attacks in the remote area of Congo, where the rebels have bases.

“We have deployed troops in most of the villages we suspect that can be attacked by LRA rebels,” said Ugandan Capt. Chris Magezi. He is a spokesman for the coordinated forces of Uganda, Congo and southern Sudan, who launched an offensive this month to root out the rebels.

Rebel spokesman David Matsanga denied responsibility for the attacks, saying the Ugandan army blamed the Lord’s Resistance Army to galvanize international support to fight the rebels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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