- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 25, 2009

SUDAN

Four get death for killing American

KHARTOUM | Four Sudanese men were sentenced to hang Wednesday for killing a U.S. aid official and his driver in Khartoum.

John Granville, 33, from the U.S. Agency for International Development, and his 39-year-old driver, Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, were fatally shot as they returned from New Year’s celebrations in the early hours of Jan. 1, 2008.

A fifth defendant, who admitted helping some men buy weapons but denied knowing anything about the killing, was sentenced to two years in jail for illegally dealing in weapons.

ZIMBABWE

Hearings begin on new statute

HARARE | Zimbabwe began hearings Wednesday on a new constitution to comply with a power-sharing deal and usher in elections.

President Robert Mugabe formed a unity government in February with arch-foe Morgan Tsvangirai, now prime minister, after disputed elections last year and agreed to write a new constitution within 18 months.

Zimbabweans hope a new charter, replacing one inked in 1979, a year before independence from Britain, will strengthen the role of Parliament and whittle down the president’s powers, and guarantee civil liberties and political and media freedoms.

If the new constitution is adopted after a referendum, elections could follow but the parties of Mr. Mugabe and Mr. Tsvangirai may agree to defer the vote to a later date.

SOMALIA

Legislators seek safety abroad

NAIROBI, Kenya | Scores of Somali legislators have fled violence at home to the safety of other countries in Africa, Europe and the United States, leaving the nation’s parliament without a quorum to meet.

Violence from an Islamist-led insurgency has worsened this month, with a Cabinet minister, the Mogadishu police chief, and a legislator all killed. The government, which controls little but a few parts of the capital, has declared a state of emergency.

Meanwhile, Islamist rebel leader Sheik Hassan Dahir Aweys held a news conference in Mogadishu to denounce the government’s call at the weekend for foreign forces to come to its aid.

The African Union has a 4,300-strong force guarding government and other installations in Mogadishu, but has been unable to stem violence and has been targeted by the rebels.

“The fighting will stop when the foreign enemy forces leave the country and Somalis come together for talks,” Sheik Aweys said.

NIGERIA

Pardons for 68 from Abacha era

ABUJA | Nigerian President Umaru Yar’Adua is expected Thursday to grant a full pardon to dozens of Nigerians convicted of treason by military dictator Sani Abacha in the mid-1990s, a senior official said.

A presidential advisory committee has recommended that 68 Nigerians, most of whom are no longer in detention, receive a full pardon allowing them to regain property and retirement benefits, the source close to Nigeria’s Council of State said.

Scores of security officials and prominent personalities, including former President Olusegun Obasanjo, were rounded up and jailed by Gen. Abacha for what have since been largely dismissed as phoney coup plots in 1995 and 1997.

Gen. Abacha ruled from 1993 until his sudden death in 1998. His regime is considered one of the most brutal in Nigeria’s long history of military rule.

TOGO

Death penalty abolished

LOME | Togo formally abolished the death penalty Wednesday in a parliamentary vote held in the presence of visiting Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Togo becomes the 15th member of the African Union and the 94th country in the world to abolish the death penalty for all crimes, according to Amnesty International, which is campaigning for global abolition of the penalty.

Togo carried out its last execution in 1978, although the death penalty has remained on the statutes.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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