- - Wednesday, January 19, 2011

TUNISIA

Tunisians probe assets of deposed leader

TUNIS | Tunisia and Switzerland moved Wednesday to track down assets believed squirreled away overseas by deposed Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and his deeply resented family, who fled the country amid violent protests.

At least 100 people have died in about a month of unrest that preceded and followed Mr. Ben Ali’s ouster, the U.N. said. Meanwhile, hundreds of protesters led a peaceful - if noisy - rally in central Tunis, demanding that former allies of Mr. Ben Ali stop clinging to power.

The latest march was less tense then those of recent days, when police fired tear gas and clubbed protesters.

Mr. Ben Ali fled to Saudi Arabia on Friday after 23 years in power, and a caretaker government run by his longtime prime minister is now struggling to calm tensions.

IVORY COAST

U.N. adds 2,000 troops to Ivory Coast force

UNITED NATIONS | The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday voted unanimously to deploy 2,000 additional peacekeepers to Ivory Coast, where the incumbent president has refused to relinquish his post to the man internationally recognized as the West African country’s legitimate leader.

Ivory Coast has seen violence and increased tension since the disputed presidential election in November. The new U.N. troops, to be deployed through June, would bolster the world body’s peacekeeping force to nearly 12,000.

African Union envoy Raila Odinga, Kenya’s prime minister, said Wednesday that despite two days of meetings, he has failed to persuade incumbent Laurent Gbagbo to relinquish the presidency to Alassane Ouattara.

KENYA

Officials try to delay post-violence cases

NAIROBI | In the aftermath of Kenya’s disputed election, a mob set fire to a church where hundreds were taking refuge. Stone-throwing gangs wielding machetes killed scores of people, and police fatally shot protesters.

Three years later, the International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor wants to try six prominent Kenyans for their roles in inciting that violence. But now Kenya is lobbying other African countries to support a proposal to defer the cases, saying the trials could threaten attempts to reconcile the country.

Several opinion polls conducted in the past year show broad public support for the ICC process, though, and critics warn such a delay would prevent justice for the more than 1,000 people killed during weeks of rioting and ethnic clashes in December 2007.

DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO

U.N.: 8 soldiers arrested in New Year’s rapes

KINSHASA | A former rebel commander integrated as a colonel into the Congolese army has been arrested in the rapes of dozens of women in volatile eastern Congo on New Year’s Day, the U.N. reported Wednesday.

The U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Aid also reported that the number of people who have come forward to report being raped has risen to 50, from 13 a week ago. That number could rise as more survivors emerge from the bush to which they fled.

Lt. Col. Kibibi Mutware has been identified by some victims and witnesses as the commander of the punitive mass rapes against residents of Fizi town. Seven other soldiers were also arrested.

The incident started after one of his soldiers was killed in a dispute over a woman, according to the U.N. The area long has been a hotbed of rivalry between the majority Babembe people and so-called Banyamulenge of Rwandan origin or Congolese belonging to the Tutsi tribe.

ZIMBABWE

Zimbabwe won’t harass foreign businesses

HARARE | Zimbabwe will not heed a proposal by the president’s party to bring U.S. and British business executives before state media to denounce their countries’ sanctions, a minister said Wednesday.

President Robert Mugabe’s party has demanded that the chief executives publicly criticize Western economic restrictions imposed on Zimbabwe or forfeit control of their businesses.

Industry Minister Welshman Ncube said Wednesday that threats of trial by media-style “kangaroo courts” further undermined efforts to stabilize already shaky investor confidence in the embattled economy.

It is illegal under the constitution to force individuals to make public their political opinions, Mr. Ncube said.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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