- The Washington Times - Monday, July 20, 2009

MAURITANIA

Coup leader elected president

NOUAKCHOTT | Gen. Mohammed Ould Abdel Aziz, who ousted Mauritania’s first democratically elected leader in a coup last year, has won the desert nation’s presidential election in the first round, the government said.

Gen. Abdel Aziz won 52.6 percent of the vote, Interior Minister Mohamed Ould Rzeizim said on Sunday, hours after the main opposition candidates rejected the vote as a sham.

The result must still be confirmed by Mauritania’s Constitutional Court.

“We firmly reject these prefabricated results; secondly, we call on the international community to put in place an inquiry to shed some light on the electoral process,” the challengers to Gen. Abdel Aziz said.

IRAN

British diplomat freed on bail

TEHRAN | Iran on Sunday released on bail a British Embassy staffer who was among a group of nine arrested following disturbances after the hotly disputed June 12 presidential election, his attorney said.

“He just got released. He is fine and seems not to be having any problem,” the lawyer, Abdolsamad Khoramshahi, told Agence France-Presse about his client, Hossein Rassam.

Mr. Rassam, a senior political analyst at the British Embassy, was arrested June 27, along with eight other embassy staffers who have since been released.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown had warned Iran that the European Union was ready to act collectively in response to the arrests and received expressions of solidarity from fellow members of the 27-nation bloc.

BOLIVIA

Coca donated to help Morales

LA PAZ | A leader of coca growers in central Bolivia says the farmers are putting their controversial crop behind President Evo Morales’ campaign for re-election.

Asterio Romero tells the government’s Patria Nueva radio station that each of his union’s 45,000 members will donate a pound of coca to help Mr. Morales in the December election. That works out to roughly $135,000.

The leftist Mr. Morales is Bolivia’s first Indian president, and he rose to prominence as a leader of coca growers battling U.S. efforts to wipe out the crop, which is the raw material for cocaine.

The coca growers say the U.S. campaign is unjust because the crop is a traditional product used for centuries as a mild stimulant that cuts hunger and eases altitude sickness.

SUDAN

Rival troops face off over oil

KHARTOUM | The U.N. expressed concern about the presence of former southern Sudanese rebels in a contested oil-rich area near the border with the north, raising fears of violence days ahead of a key court decision on the region’s boundaries.

Recurrent fighting between the north and south in Abyei region has strained a 2005 peace deal that ended more than two decades of civil war in which an estimated 2 million people died. The region is just north of the boundary line with southern Sudan, but both sides claim it as their own.

The U.N. representative to Sudan, Ashraf Qazi, said Saturday that he has received several reports in the past few weeks that former southern rebels and police are present in Abyei. Their presence would be a violation of an agreement struck between the north and south in 2008 to let a special tribunal in the Hague, Netherlands, decide Abyei’s boundaries.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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