- - Wednesday, September 15, 2010


Army promises to back elected president

CONAKRY | Guinea’s interim junta leader, Gen. Sekouba Konate, said Wednesday the army would give its full support to the next president, days ahead of elections that have been marred by violence.

“The army will be at the disposal of the one who is elected,” Gen. Konate said to soldiers at a camp in the capital, Conakry, and interim Prime Minister Jean-Marie Dore after a weekend of violence left one dead and 50 injured.

On Sunday, former Prime Minister Cellou Dalein Diallo and veteran opposition leader Alpha Conde are due to go head to head in the presidential election runoff.

Gen. Konate insisted on the neutrality of the army, which he said is “there to defend territorial integrity and defend civilians.”

“The army has no ethnicity,” he said. “The military family is apolitical.”

Impoverished Guinea, which has few commercial assets apart from bauxite, has known decades of autocratic or military rule, and Gen. Konate has worked to hand over power to elected civilians.


Leader says he will contest poll

ABUJA | Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan announced Wednesday on his Facebook page that he will contest the January presidential poll, ending months of speculation on his ambition.

“I, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, by the grace of God hereby offer myself and my services to the Nigerian people as a candidate for the office of President in the forthcoming 2011 elections,” Mr. Jonathan said on his Facebook page.

The president said he had made his decision after “wide and thorough consultations” across Nigeria.

He said a formal declaration would be made in Abuja on Saturday.


Study: Heavy cost for environmental damage

BLANTYRE | Impoverished Malawi loses $191 million a year to environmental damage including soil erosion, deforestation and over-fishing, a U.N.-backed study said Wednesday.

“This cost is equivalent to 5.3 percent of GDP each year,” said Ronald Mangani of the University of Malawi, who led the research financed by the U.N. Development Program. “Malawi would be richer by $191 million dollars each year.”

“Malawi pays a high price for unsustainable natural use. That money is not a small figure considering our level of income,” he added.

Malawi is one of Africa’s poorest countries, with a per capita income of $210. Half of its 13 million citizens live below the poverty line, on less than a dollar a day.


President denies role in alleged fraud

HELSINKI | Beninese President Boni Yayi has denied involvement in an alleged savings fraud, speaking publicly for the first time about accusations made by lawmakers in the impoverished West African country.

Mr. Yayi, talking to reporters during a visit to Finland, said on Wednesday the accusations are politically motivated ahead of an election scheduled for March.

Members of Benin’s parliament have tried to impeach Mr. Yayi for his alleged involvement in a scheme that swindled thousands of people out of their savings and that already has led to large-scale street protests and the sacking of a minister.

Members of parliament accuse Mr. Yayi of hosting officials from ICC Services, a firm accused of stealing some $196 million in deposits after promising returns of 20 percent to 50 percent.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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