- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 4, 2010

SOUTH AFRICA

President Zuma acknowledges child

JOHANNESBURG | South Africa’s polygamist President Jacob Zuma confirmed Wednesday that he fathered a daughter last year with a woman who is not one of his three wives or fiancee, and criticized those who said his actions undermined the country’s campaign against AIDS.

Mr. Zuma’s statement is his first comment on the issue since Johannesburg’s Sunday Times reported this week that the baby girl born in October was Mr. Zuma’s child. Critics said the 67-year-old president’s behavior sends the wrong message in a country struggling against AIDS. Experts say having multiple, concurrent partners heightens the risk of passing on HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

South Africa, a nation of about 50 million, has an estimated 5.7 million people infected with HIV, more than any other country.

“It is mischievous to argue that I have changed or undermined government’s stance on the HIV and AIDS campaign,” Mr. Zuma said in the statement.

Mr. Zuma, who has 19 other children, has three wives and is engaged to a fourth woman.

Brian Sokutu, a spokesman for Mr. Zuma’s African National Congress Party, told the Associated Press that the president’s relationship with a fifth woman was not adulterous because Mr. Zuma is a polygamist who may have been intending to marry the woman.

“There is something called courtship,” Mr. Sokutu said. “What that means is that before you do officially get married there is the courting period. And during that period anything can happen.”

RWANDA

Mob attacks opposition leader

KIGALI | Rwandan police arrested five men Wednesday for attacking a potential presidential candidate who has been accused of stirring ethnic tensions in a country where 800,000 people were killed in the 1994 genocide.

Victoire Ingabire, who heads the yet to be registered United Democratic Forces, managed to escape the midday assault without injury but her assistant, Joseph Ntawangundi, was severely beaten, party spokeswoman Solange Ingabire said.

Victoire Ingabire returned to the central African country last month after a 16-year absence to begin her campaign for the August presidential election, which observers say incumbent Paul Kagame is almost certain to win.

Upon arrival, she was criticized over comments about the memory of ethnic Hutus killed during the 1994 genocide and about the ethnic makeup of the Rwandan government. She said it was dominated by a Tutsi elite.

Discussion of ethnicity is officially taboo in Rwanda. After the genocide, Mr. Kagame, a former Tutsi rebel, has tried to replace ethnic labels by forging a strong sense of national identity among its 10 million citizens.

NIGERIA

U.S. pledges review of flight ‘blacklist’

ACCRA, Ghana | The United States will review soon a list of countries whose air travelers are subject to tighter screening and could remove nations like Nigeria if they are no longer deemed to be security threats, a U.S. official said.

Nigeria and other key allies such as Saudi Arabia and Algeria have voiced their displeasure at being included in the 14-country list, which Washington unveiled last month after a botched Christmas Day attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner.

“There is going to be a review soon and if it turns out that the warning is no longer applicable to Nigeria, it would be removed,” Johnnie Carson, assistant secretary of State for African affairs, said Wednesday in Accra, the capital of neighboring Ghana.

“The United States has nothing against the people and the government of Nigeria and we still maintain good relationship with that country,” Mr. Carson told reporters, adding the measure was designed to “create awareness” about possible threats.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian described by U.S. officials as an al Qaeda operative, tried unsuccessfully to detonate explosives hidden in his underwear on a Dec. 25 flight as it approached Detroit.

Nigeria took exception to its inclusion on the list, pointing out that Mr. Abdulmutallab largely went to school overseas and that he was believed to have been radicalized in London and Yemen.

SOMALIA

Pirates hijack N. Korean ship

NAIROBI, Kenya | Somali pirates hijacked a North Korean cargo ship on Wednesday with an unknown number of crew on board, the European Union Naval Force said.

The MV Rim was seized in the Gulf of Aden, outside the internationally recommended transit corridor patrolled by the anti-piracy naval coalition, said Cmdr. Anders Kallin of the EU Naval Force.

The MV Rim has not had any communication with maritime authorities, but Cmdr. Kallin said an American warship, the USS Porter, and a helicopter from American warship USS Farragut confirmed the seizure of the ship.

The 4,800-ton ship is owned by White Sea Shipping of Libya. It is carrying unknown cargo and the number and nationalities of the crew are not known.

ANGOLA

Vice president named in Cabinet reshuffle

LUANDA | Angola’s president on Wednesday appointed the country’s first vice president and new ministers for finance, mining and public works in a major Cabinet reshuffle after the approval of a new constitution.

The charter, which parliament approved last month, replaces the prime minister with a vice president and allows President Jose Eduardo dos Santos to extend his 30-year rule over one of Africa’s top oil producers without a direct ballot.

In the widely expected shake-up, Mr. dos Santos named Fernando Dias dos Santos, the head of the National Assembly and a former prime minister, as vice president, according to a statement on government-run news agency Angop.

The move is likely to raise speculation Mr. Dias dos Santos, also known as Nando, is being groomed for the presidency. However, although elections are expected in 2012 the ruling MPLA party has already named President dos Santos as its candidate.

SOUTH AFRICA

Mandela’s inauguration flag up for auction

LONDON | A London auction house is selling a South African flag that flew during Nelson Mandela’s inauguration as the country’s first black president.

Auctioneer Bonhams said the 5-foot-by-7½-foot flag was flown from a helicopter above the ceremony in Pretoria on May 10, 1994.

It is signed by Mr. Mandela, his predecessor F.W. De Klerk and his successor Thabo Mbeki and comes with a certificate of authenticity.

Mr. Mandela’s inauguration was one of the first occasions on which South Africa’s multicolored post-apartheid flag was displayed. The flag is expected to sell for $16,000 to $24,000 on March 24.

Bonhams did not identify the seller Wednesday but said the flag was previously owned by the helicopter pilot, Maj. Louis de Waal.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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