- - Wednesday, April 25, 2012

GUINEA-BISSAU

BISSAU — The junta that seized power this month in this tiny West African nation said Wednesday that it will be unable to pay civil servant salaries because of “the absence of a government.”

“Given the absence of a government and current circumstances that followed the military uprising on April 12, the military command … will not be able to pay civil servant salaries on the 25th of the month, as is normally the case,” said a statement from the junta.

The military rulers have come under fire from the United Nations, the European Union and the Economic Communities of West African States (ECOWAS) for refusing to release arrested government officials and restore civilian rule.

An ECOWAS delegation arrived in Bissau on Sunday in an attempt to negotiate with the junta but left empty-handed Tuesday, a source close to the talks said.

Heads of state from the West African bloc are also due to hold a summit Thursday in the Ivory Coast capital of Abidjan to discuss the situation in Guinea-Bissau, a former Portuguese colony that relies heavily on international aid.

MALI

3 ARMY OFFICERS TIED TO JUNTA PICKED FOR CABINET

BAMAKO — Mali’s interim prime minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, on Wednesday formed a 24-member government, including three army officers seen as close to the outgoing military junta.

The interim government’s main task will be to resolve the crisis in the north of the country, which has been seized by Tuareg and Islamist rebels.

The three officers - Col. Yamoussa Camara, Col. Moussa Sinko Coulibaly and Gen. Tiefing Konate - will hold the defense, interior and civil protection portfolios in the West African country, where the military seized power last month.

The junta relinquished control under a deal brokered by the Economic Community of West African States regional bloc.

Mr. Diarra was named interim prime minister on April 17, five days after the former parliament speaker, Dioncounda Traore, was inaugurated president under the agreement.

ZIMBABWE

‘Poisonous politics’ blamed for economic setbacks

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s prime minister says the nation’s “bad and poisonous politics” have held back recovery and investment in the troubled economy.

Morgan Tsvangirai, a critic of a zealous black-empowerment program by President Robert Mugabe’s party, said Wednesday that the three-year coalition “has bickered more than it has collaborated” to spur economic growth.

Mr. Mugabe’s party has vowed to seize 51 percent control for blacks of foreign- and white-owned businesses. Mr. Tsvangirai, visiting a trade exposition in the second city of Bulawayo, said discord and “toxic” policies over the control of businesses frightened off investors willing to rebuild collapsed industries and power and other utilities.

A decade of economic meltdown followed seizures of thousands of white-owned farms.

RWANDA

Prosecutors seek life term for opposition leader

KIGALI — Rwandan prosecutors said Wednesday that they are seeking a life sentence for a political opposition leader who faces charges of threatening state security, denying genocide and promoting ethnic division.

Victoire Ingabire was not present in the courtroom. She announced last week that she was boycotting the court and called the charges politically motivated. She has pleaded not guilty.

Her attorney said they will appeal the sentences after the verdict, expected June 29.

The case against Ms. Ingabire, the head of the opposition party FDU-Inkingi, has highlighted Rwanda’s struggle to move beyond the 1994 genocide, when extremist Hutus killed more than 500,000 Tutsis and moderate Hutus.

Her trial, along with those of her four co-defendants, began in September.

MALAWI

New president reassures foreign diplomats

BLANTYRE — Malawi’s new president, Joyce Banda, vowed Wednesday to allow foreign diplomats to work freely as she seeks to improve strained donor ties.

Ms. Banda also named career diplomat Bernard Sande as ambassador to Britain, one day after London resumed full diplomatic ties with Malawi and ended a yearlong diplomatic feud.

Britain’s previous envoy, Fergus Cochrane-Dyet, was booted from Malawi when a leaked diplomatic cable showed that he had accused the previous president, Bingu wa Mutharika, of “becoming ever more autocratic and intolerant of criticism.” London expelled Malawi’s ambassador.

Donors have suspended hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to Malawi because of concern about Mutharika’s autocratic policies.

Ms. Banda, who took office two days after Mr. Mutharika’s death on April 5, has urged major donors to restore their support.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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