- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 11, 2010

ETHIOPIA

Sabotage not ruled out in crash

ADDIS ABABA | Ethiopian Airlines said Wednesday it still believed sabotage may have caused the crash of one of its aircraft off Lebanon last month which killed all 90 people on board.

A source familiar with the investigation into the accident told Reuters news agency Tuesday the team concluded pilot error was to blame after examining the airliner’s flight recorders. An airlines statement Wednesday said such reports were “speculative.”

The Boeing 737-800 crashed minutes after taking off from Beirut en route to Addis Ababa in stormy weather on Jan. 25.

The Lebanese army said the plane had broken up in the air before plummeting into the sea. Witnesses described it as crashing in a ball of flame.

Search teams on Wednesday retrieved the second black box belonging to the jet, but Lebanese officials said it was missing a key piece.

Passenger jets carry two black boxes - a data flight recorder and a cockpit voice recorder. The data flight recorder was retrieved among the plane’s wreckage on Sunday and flown to France for analysis Monday. A Lebanese senior security official said the cockpit voice recorder was retrieved Wednesday in the same area and would also be flown to France.

RWANDA

Opposition seen facing intimidation

KIGALI | Rwanda’s opposition is facing increasing threats, attacks and harassment by individuals and institutions close to the government and ruling party ahead of this year’s elections, a rights group said Wednesday.

New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the Rwandan Patriotic Front (RPF) party of President Paul Kagame, who is widely expected to win a second seven-year term in August, did not tolerate political opposition or public criticism.

Rwanda’s police spokesman, Eric Karinga, told Reuters news agency the security forces were investigating the harassment allegations.

HRW said three vocal opposition parties that had emerged in the run-up to this year’s presidential election had suffered serious intimidation and encountered difficulties registering.

Mr. Kagame, a former rebel leader whose forces ended Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, has said that Victoire Ingabire, outspoken leader of the so-far-unregistered United Democratic Forces (UDF), may be prosecuted under the nation’s genocide ideology law.

The largely pro-government media have accused Ms. Ingabire of stoking ethnic division after she called for investigations into crimes committed against Hutus by the army and largely Tutsi RPF guerrillas in 1994.

Ms. Ingabire denies charges by genocide survivor groups that she is playing the “ethnic card” in an attempt to attract votes.

NIGERIA

Acting president reshuffles Cabinet

ABUJA | Nigerian Vice President Goodluck Jonathan removed the powerful justice minister Wednesday in his first major step since assuming executive powers in the absence of President Umaru Yar’Adua.

Mr. Jonathan assumed full presidential powers late Tuesday to fill a power vacuum left by the ailing 58-year-old leader, who has been in hospital in Saudi Arabia since late November receiving treatment for a heart condition.

Outgoing Justice Minister and Attorney General Michael Aondoakaa has been among the group of ministers who held out most strenuously against formally transferring power to Mr. Jonathan during Mr. Yar’Adua’s absence of more than two months.

Former Special Duties Minister Ibrahim Kazaure will replace outgoing Labor Minister Adetokunbo Kayode in the reshuffle.

SOUTH AFRICA

Orphanage director dies saving children

JOHANNESBURG | A South African orphanage director died a hero, rescuing nine children as their rural home burned, local media reported Wednesday.

The blaze early Tuesday killed Sarah Holland, the director and founder of the Hope of Christ Home in KwaZulu-Natal province, along with two adults and eight children between ages 4 and 15.

Ms. Holland, known as Granny, had gathered the children into the only room without burglar bars, according to one of the children who survived.

Ms. Holland had operated the orphanage in her home on a small farm. Three of her grandchildren who were living with her were among the dead.

The cause of the blaze remained under investigation. Authorities initially had said that 15 people had died Tuesday, but revised the toll on Wednesday.


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