- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 28, 2009


President blocks ex-leader’s return

ANTANANARIVO | Madagascar’s new president Wednesday refused to allow ousted leader Marc Ravalomanana to return from exile, potentially derailing talks to end the island’s political crisis.

Andry Rajoelina issued his edict a day after Mr. Ravalomanana accused him of being in league with former colonial power France to enslave the Malagasy population.

Cross-party political talks, closely watched by foreign powers, were set to resume later Wednesday.

Allies of Mr. Ravalomanana - who is in exile in South Africa - said they would boycott further negotiations if discussions did not begin clearing the way for his return.

Late Tuesday, Mr. Ravalomanana accused France of supporting Madagascar’s coup leaders, whom he described as bandits. He said France was out to enslave the people of Madagascar and was acting with only its vested interests in mind.

Mr. Ravalomanana’s allies have suggested French involvement in Mr. Rajoelina’s rise to power since the outset of the crisis, but this is the first time Mr. Ravalomanana has pointed a finger.

He gave up power in March under intense pressure from Mr. Rajoelina’s popular movement and dissident troops.

Madagascar gained independence from France in 1960.


Tribesmen attack security force

KHARTOUM | Scores of people were killed when 3,000 armed Arab tribesmen on horseback attacked security forces in Sudan’s oil-producing Southern Kordofan region Tuesday, tribal sources and officials said.

Sudan’s Interior Ministry said the security forces were attacked close to the town of Meiram soon after arriving to try to prevent a fresh outbreak of fighting between warring Misseriya and Rizeigat nomads.

One tribal source said more than 100 tribesmen, security officers and civilians may have been killed in Tuesday’s clashes and other skirmishes between the tribes in recent days.

The clashes were a reminder of the tense political situation in Southern Kordofan, which borders both the strife-torn Darfur region and southern Sudan, where tensions are still simmering four years after the end of a civil war with the north.

The Rizeigat and Misseriya have clashed in the past in fighting often rooted in disputes over grazing land and access to water.

The government raised the political temperature in Southern Kordofan earlier this month by naming a new governor - Ahmed Haroun, a divisive figure distrusted by local residents and wanted by the International Criminal Court for purported war crimes in Darfur.


Priests protest choice of archbishop

BANGUI | Roman Catholic priests in the Central African Republic on Wednesday announced they had begun a strike to protest the choice of a new archbishop of Bangui after his predecessor resigned.

The Rev. Dieudonne Nzapa-La-Ayinga was picked to replace Archbishop Paulin Pomodimo, who resigned at 55 for undisclosed reasons.

The Rev. Mathurin Paze Lekissan of the Bangui diocese said the protesting priests will cease all pastoral activities and stop celebrating Mass in public. He told Agence France-Presse that the strike is not directed at Father Nzapa-La-Ayinga, the new prelate, but that the clerics objected to the lack of consultation by the Vatican ahead of his appointment.

The chancellor to the archdiocese of Bangui, the Rev. Brad Walter Mazangue, announced Archbishop Podomino’s resignation effective Tuesday, without giving further details and declining to say whether the Vatican had asked for it or whether the former archbishop had stepped down voluntarily.

Archbishop Pomodimo’s departure follows the equally unexplained resignation of the bishop of the northwestern town of Bossangoa, Xavier Yombaindje, a few weeks earlier, and comes in the wake of a Vatican mission to the country in March by the Rev. Robert Sarah, secretary of the church’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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