Tutu blasts ANC over Dalai Lama visa
JOHANNESBURG | Retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an anti-apartheid hero often described as South Africa’s conscience, slammed the ANC-led government as “disgraceful” and said it is worse than the country’s former oppressive white regime for not issuing a visa to the Dalai Lama.
The African National Congress responded by calling the archbishop’s comparisons to the apartheid regime and to toppled Arab dictatorships “very unfortunate and totally misplaced,” and said the government should be given time to explain its actions.
South African Foreign Ministry officials have denied accusations they are stalling on the visa because of pressure from China, a major trading partner.
The archbishop, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for his nonviolent campaign against white racist rule, turns 80 on Friday and had invited his fellow Nobel laureate to South Africa to celebrate his birthday.
The archbishop angrily denounced ANC leaders in a nationally televised news conference hours Tuesday after the Dalai Lama’s office said he was calling off the visit because he didn’t expect to get a visa.
The archbishop, who struggled for years alongside the ANC and other anti-apartheid groups to defeat oppressive white rule, said South Africans expect their government to stand for the human rights as laid out in the constitution.
“This government, our government, is worse than the apartheid government, because at least you were expecting it with the apartheid government,” Archbishop Tutu said, describing anti-regime activists being denied passports at the last minute by the white racist regime.
Barely concealing his fury, Archbishop Tutu repeatedly told ANC leaders to “watch out” and warned them about becoming too complacent after winning every election since 1994 with large majorities.
He indicated they could face the fate of Arab dictatorships.
“Well, [Hosni] Mubarak had a large majority. [Moammar] Gadhafi had a large majority,” the retired archbishop said, referring to toppled Arab leaders in Egypt and Libya. “One day we will start praying for the defeat of the ANC government. You are disgraceful.”
Militants vow to increase attacks after bombing
MOGADISHU | Al Qaeda-linked militants threatened more terror attacks that will “increase day by day” after a suicide bomber killed 70 people.
Mourners transported coffins atop cars Wednesday to funerals for those who perished in al-Shabab’s deadliest bomb attack in Somalia.
A truck loaded with drums of fuel exploded Tuesday at the gate of a building housing several government ministries along a busy street in the war-ravaged capital.
The attack came more than a month after most al-Shabab fighters melted away from Mogadishu amid a pro-government offensive, and showed that the insurgents remain a severe threat.
Al-Shabab spokesman Ali Mohamud Rage identified the suicide bomber as Somali student Bashar Abdullahi Nur. He said the attack was a warning to those who thought the group had left Mogadishu for good in August.
“We wish to inform the Muslim people that the campaign against infidels will be back-to-back and by God’s grace will increase day by day and will increase in the coming hours,” he said. “I will give a good tiding to the infidels: You will face big and broad blows.”
U.S. gives $121 million in food aid amid drought
ADDIS ABABA | A top U.S. aid official said the U.S. will donate more than $121 million to Ethiopia to fight food insecurity amid a drought in the East African nation.
Raj Shah, director of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), said Tuesday during a visit to Ethiopia’s capital that the U.S. will provide $110 million to a program that will benefit 1.5 million people.
He said another $10 million will be spent on a nutrition program and $1.2 million given in loans to encourage farmers.
More than 4.5 million Ethiopians need food assistance.
East Africa’s drought has developed into a famine in neighboring Somalia. The U.N. says 750,000 people are in danger of dying over the next few months. The U.N. estimates tens of thousands have died already.
President seeks third term despite unrest
DAKAR | A spokesman for Senegal’s president said he will seek a third term despite unrest and calls for his resignation.
Spokesman Serigne Mbacke Ndiaye said Tuesday that Abdoulaye Wade will soon submit his bid to the Constitutional Court ahead of Feb. 26 elections.
The 85-year-old Mr. Wade is attempting to run for a third term by exploiting a constitutional loophole that would circumvent the two-mandate limit.
Mr. Wade’s plans to run, as well as frequent power cuts and the spiraling cost of living, have sparked violent protests in recent months in what has historically been one of West Africa’s most stable democracies.
An opposition coalition is calling for Mr. Wade to withdraw his candidacy and has threatened further demonstrations.