- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 18, 2010


Crime-linked officers appointed to ministries

CONAKRY | Two powerful army officers accused of grave crimes have been appointed ministers in Guinea’s new government, dashing hopes that the rogue soldiers blamed for bringing this country to the brink of conflict would be sidelined.

Their appointments were announced via a decree read on state TV late Tuesday, more than 24 hours after the list of other government ministers was issued.

The initial list — which included five members of the military, none of whom is accused of a crime — was hailed as proof that Guinea is moving ahead with plans to return the West African country to civilian rule after an 11-month military dictatorship.

Lt. Col. Moussa “Tiegboro” Camara, who is accused by a U.N. panel of being one of the main actors behind a Sept. 28 massacre of at least 157 civilians, was appointed to a special ministerial post in charge of the fight against drugs. Cmdr. Claude Pivi, who is accused of ordering the torture of civilians, will stay on as minister in charge of presidential security.

Guinea was given a second chance at democracy in recent months after a renegade soldier shot the country’s military junta leader, forcing him to seek medical treatment abroad. While he was away, his No. 2, Gen. Sekouba Konate, contacted members of the opposition and began to discuss plans for returning Guinea to civilian rule.

Gen. Konate then negotiated for Capt. Moussa “Dadis” Camara to agree to remain in exile and to hand over power to a civilian-led transitional government, which is to organize elections within six months.

The accord called for a government made up of 30 ministers, including 10 to be drawn from the military junta.

For several weeks now, civilian Prime Minister Jean Marie Dore has been wrangling with the military over the composition of the government.


Opposition urges unity to challenge president

DAKAR | Opposition leaders in Senegal called Wednesday for a united front to challenge President Abdoulaye Wade in his bid for re-election in 2012.

Members of the Benno Siggil Senegaal coalition, in a statement, also renewed long-standing accusations that Senegal’s 83-year-old leader was laying the groundwork for his son Karim, a government minister, to succeed him.

The coalition’s name stands for “United to Boost Senegal” in Wolof, a regional language.

The opposition leaders also called for an “independent personality” to oversee a commission to revise the electoral system and for an audit of voting rolls.

In March local elections, the coalition carried several large cities, including the capital, Dakar.

Mr. Wade said in September that he would stand for a third term in 2012. He also promised that the race would be open and without “cheating.”


Opposition groups riot while awaiting elections

ABIDJAN | Riot police clashed with opposition demonstrators in Ivory Coast on Wednesday as political leaders held extended talks on forming a unity government charged with getting delayed elections back on track.

Opposition groups demonstrated in several cities in the world’s top cocoa-producing country. The most serious incident was in the capital, Yamoussoukro, where police used tear gas to disperse protesters and arrested about 10 people.

In Abidjan, scores of youths erected barricades and burned tires amid growing anger over President Laurent Gbagbo’s shock decision to oust the 3-year-old national unity government Friday, just weeks before the country was to hold its first presidential election in almost a decade.

Before the protests Wednesday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed for calm in the West African country.

Protesters have marched in Dimbokro, Daoukro, Bondoukou and other cities since Monday amid opposition charges that Mr. Gbagbo was stalling elections.


Anti-gay pastor screens porn in church

KAMPALA | A pastor seeking to bolster Uganda’s anti-gay laws, which already make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment, screened gay porn in a Kampala church Wednesday in a bid to drum up support.

About 300 supporters crammed into an evangelical church in the Ugandan capital to attend the screening after police thwarted plans for a “million-man march.”

“The major argument homosexuals have is that what people do in the privacy of their bedrooms is nobody’s business, but do you know what they do in their bedrooms?” the pastor, Martin Ssempa, asked before displaying a slide show of gay pornographic pictures.

“Is this what Obama wants to bring to Africa?” he said. President Obama and others in the U.S. have fiercely criticized a Ugandan bill drafted last year that would further criminalize homosexuality.

The proposed law would criminalize public discussion of homosexuality and could penalize anyone who knowingly rents property to a homosexual.

The bill initially received broad political support in Uganda, a country where evangelical churches wield great influence, but attracted fierce criticism from Mr. Obama, who called it “odious.”

The pastor, whose previous feats included publishing the names of homosexuals in newspapers, said he wanted the bill to be passed as law by April 4, as “an Easter present to the people of Uganda.”

The author of the bill, David Bahati, also attended the gathering.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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