- - Monday, January 24, 2011

YEMEN

President tries to defuse calls for ouster

SANAA | Yemen’s president tried to defuse calls for his ouster, forcefully denying claims by opponents that he plans to install his son as his successor and raising salaries for the army.

In several days of protest, student activists and opposition groups in the Arab world’s most impoverished nation — buoyed by the example of the popular revolt in Tunisia — have boldly called for the removal of U.S.-allied President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

The protests are presenting Yemen’s ruler — in power for nearly 32 years — with a new and unpredictable challenge, adding to the threat from an al Qaeda offshoot aiming to topple him, a southern secessionist movement and an on-and-off armed rebellion in the north.

IVORY COAST

Ouattara calls for cocoa-export ban

ABIDJAN | Ivory Coast’s internationally recognized leader ordered a one-month ban on cocoa exports starting Monday in a test of his authority as he battles the incumbent clinging to power for control of the world’s largest cocoa-producing country.

The move aims to strangle incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo’s ability to pay civil servants and maintain their loyalty, but there are no guarantees growers in the volatile West African nation will comply. The uncertainty sent cocoa prices soaring to a five-month high on Monday.

“The government informs all the economic operators of the immediate halt to all coffee and cocoa exports,” the statement issued by internationally recognized winner Alassane Ouattara’s camp late Sunday said. The order added that anyone who did not follow it would be “subject to national and international sanctions.”

GERMANY

Doctor’s group denies U.S. death-penalty drug

BERLIN | The leading medical association and key pharmaceutical companies in Germany, where anti-death-penalty sentiment is strong, said Monday they would not support exporting a drug to the U.S. that is needed for lethal injections there.

The German Medical Association, the country’s association of Research-Based Pharmaceutical Companies and officials from the three companies producing or distributing sodium thiopental in Germany said they oppose selling it to the U.S. for fear it could be used in executions.

SUDAN

U.N. worried about fighting in Darfur

UNITED NATIONS | There has been a worrisome increase in fighting between rebel and government forces in Sudan’s conflict-torn western Darfur region, the U.N. chief said in a report published Monday.

“I am deeply concerned over the upsurge in fighting between government and [rebel] movement forces … and its humanitarian consequences,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a quarterly report on the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur.

Mr. Ban said he was particularly worried about the fighting between government forces and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and the faction of the Sudan Liberation Army (SLA) loyal to Minni Minnawi.

Last week, Sudan’s army said it clashed with fighters from JEM and Mr. Minnawi’s SLA faction in a four-hour fight that left 21 people dead.

IRAQ

26 killed by car bombs targeting pilgrims

BAGHDAD | Two car bombs tore through parking lots packed with Shiite pilgrims Monday in Karbala, pushing the death toll from a week of attacks to more than 170.

The uptick in violence poses a major test for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s new and somewhat shaky coalition government as followers of a powerful Shiite cleric and key ally demanded he fill key security posts.

The blasts struck as hundreds of thousands of pilgrims were massing for rituals marking the end of a 40-day mourning period for the Islamic sect’s most beloved saint.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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