- The Washington Times - Monday, April 19, 2010


New rulers struggle to restore order

JALALABAD | Kyrgyzstan’s interim rulers ran into fresh hostility in the restive south on Sunday after supporters of the country’s deposed president laid siege to regional government headquarters.

Kurmanbek Bakiyev, toppled in a violent popular revolt on April 7, went into exile last week after days of turmoil that threatened civil war and disrupted military flights from a crucial U.S. air base that supports operations in nearby Afghanistan.

The new government, which has yet to be formally recognized globally, says it controls the entire nation, but the situation appeared fluid in the south, Mr. Bakiyev’s tribal stronghold.

Persistent uncertainly in Kyrgyzstan is a worry for the United States and Russia, both of which operate military air bases in the impoverished Muslim nation of 5.3 million.


Authorities block opposition march

HAVANA | Cuban security agents denied the wives and mothers of jailed dissidents permission to hold their weekly march Sunday, setting off a long, strange standoff under the hot Caribbean sun that ended with the women being led away by officials.

After seven years of peaceful — mostly uneventful — Sunday protests, officials first stopped the women, known as the “Ladies in White,” on April 11, and informed them they would need permission to hold future demonstrations.

The group, composed mostly of the wives and mothers of about 75 dissidents arrested in a 2003 crackdown, had been the only one whose protests were tolerated by Cuba, and members had never requested or received permission previously.


Leader denies cutting gas to Iran

KUALA LUMPUR | Malaysian Premier Najib Razak has denied reports that the country’s national oil company has cut gasoline supplies to Iran.

Petronas has been one of a few non-Chinese oil companies providing gasoline to Iran, the world’s fifth-largest crude oil exporter.

On Thursday, Mr. Najib was reported as saying that Petronas had decided to suspend gasoline supplies to Iran and as warning that Tehran was close to facing new international sanctions over its controversial nuclear program.

“It is not correct. It was not a decision taken by Petronas per se. It involved a spot sale and there was no requirement anymore, so they don’t do it,” he was quoted as saying by state news agency Bernama on Saturday. “It is a third-party deal that was done in mid-March, not now.”

The national oil company said in a statement Saturday that its subsidiary had last shipped gasoline to Iran in March, but did not elaborate.


Washed out roads strand hundreds

KINGSTON | Heavy rain washed out roadways in mountainous eastern Jamaica and marooned hundreds of people, emergency authorities said Sunday.

Rain has lashed the Caribbean island since Thursday. Flooding and mudslides were reported in six parishes, including Kingston, which only days previously was facing a drought that authorities called the worst of the century.

In the eastern parish of Portland, famed for its Blue Mountain coffee, roadway collapses cut off several areas from the rest of the island and left residents stranded.


Mugabe to maintain business takeovers

HARARE, Zimbabwe | President Robert Mugabe pledged Sunday to move ahead with plans to hand over 51 percent control of businesses to blacks under a controversial program.

During ceremonies Sunday marking the 30th anniversary of independence from colonial rule, Mr. Mugabe said the proposed business takeovers are a concrete example of policies followed over the past three decades that enable locals to own the nation’s resources.

The Indigenization and Empowerment Act was passed in 2008, when parliament was still dominated by Mr. Mugabe’s lawmakers. The law came into force on March 1 and all businesses were given to April 15 to hand in proposals as to how they would hand over 51 percent of their company to blacks. This included foreign and white-owned businesses.


Border guards jailed in mutiny case

DHAKA | A Bangladeshi special court convicted and jailed 57 border guards on Sunday in relation to a bloody mutiny last year that left 74 people dead, a state prosecutor said.

Scores of senior army officers were killed in the 33-hour uprising that began when soldiers at the Bangladeshi Rifles (BDR) headquarters in Dhaka went on a killing spree, later hiding the bodies in sewers and shallow graves.

The mutiny swiftly spread to BDR posts outside Dhaka, with thousands of guards taking up arms against their commanding officers in the worst military rebellion in the country’s history.

State prosecutor Mosharraf Hossain told Agence France-Presse that the 57 received jail terms of between four months and seven years for joining the mutiny in the southeastern border town of Feni.

The same court in the past two weeks has sent 79 other soldiers to jail.

Another 2,200 guards facing more serious charges, including murder, will be tried separately in civilian courts, where they could face the death penalty.


Navy captures 13 pirating suspects

ANKARA | A Turkish frigate intercepted 13 suspected pirates in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, destroying their two boats and seizing their equipment, the Turkish military said.

The pursuit began when the frigate Gelibolu, part of a NATO force in the region, detected a ship and two skiffs, “considered to be used in piracy,” following the route of a Turkish commercial vessel sailing to Kenya, 250 nautical miles northeast of the Seychelles, the statement said.

Thirteen suspected pirates “were rendered ineffective,” their equipment was seized and the two skiffs “were destroyed so that they cannot be used again for activities of piracy,” it said.

Since 2008, an international flotilla of warships has been patrolling the Gulf of Aden, one of the globe’s busiest maritime trade routes, to stop Somali pirates from hijacking commercial vessels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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