- - Wednesday, August 29, 2012


LUANDA — Angola’s second election in 20 years will test the popularity of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos after a decade of peace has brought fabulous wealth for some in a country rich in oil and diamonds but left more than a third of its citizens mired in abject poverty.

The 70-year-old Mr. dos Santos, who has never been directly elected in 32 years in power, is widely expected to stay in the presidency in legislative elections Friday that also will determine who gets to lead the former Portuguese colony.

Still, his opponents have grown outspoken, like thousands of young people who appeared at an opposition protest last weekend to demand that the elections be free and fair.

Many of the protesters were unemployed and angry that so many Angolans have not benefited from the country’s resurgence after decades of war.


Reconciliation chief says country needs dialogue

ABIDJAN — The head of Ivory Coast’s post-war reconciliation panel, Charles Konan Banny, said Wednesday the country urgently needs dialogue between President Alassane Ouattara and the opposition.

“The Ivorian nation is in danger,” said Mr. Banny, a former prime minister.

He heads the country’s Commission for Dialogue, Truth and Reconciliation (CDVR), set up in the wake of Mr. Ouattara’s bloody post-election standoff with former President Laurent Gbagbo in 2010-2011, which killed some 3,000 people.

Mr. Banny called for dialogue to ease tensions since the bloodshed: “I am expecting the head of state, president of all Ivorians, to take the initiative in that sense.”

He also called on Gbagbo supporters to join in a dialogue. “They must also agree to come to the table for dialogue in complete honesty, freedom and sincerity,” he said.


Lawmakers select new speaker

MOGADISHU — Somalia’s parliament Tuesday elected former Labor Minister Mohamed Osman Jawari as the new speaker.

The speaker’s selection by 228 legislators is a step toward the election of Somalia’s next president.

Mr. Jawari, who led in the first round of voting, was challenged by Ali Khalif Galaydh, who was Somalia’s prime minister in the U.N.-backed caretaker government whose mandate expired on Aug. 20.

The process to select the Horn of Africa’s next government has been criticized for corruption and threats of violence, even as some praise it as a watershed moment in Somalia’s road to peace and stability.

A group of Somali elders has been tasked with selecting all 275 parliamentarians, but the election of the speaker went ahead without the complete number.


Premier: No more talks on new constitution

HARARE — Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said Tuesday he won’t renegotiate over a draft constitution despite demands by President Robert Mugabe for major amendments to the document.

Mr. Tsvangirai said he is ready to reconsider “one or two issues,” but Mr. Mugabe’s party had completely rewritten the draft.

Mr. Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, in a shaky coalition with the former opposition, “totally rejected” the draft that had been agreed upon and signed by representatives from all parties, Mr. Tsvangirai said.

The deadlock over the constitution could only be broken by regional leaders who brokered the coalition after disputed and violent elections in 2008, the prime minister told reporters.


Mine shootings threaten nation’s president, party

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s powerful trade unions are in turmoil following violence that killed 44 people during a platinum mine strike that has wide-ranging political implications.

Labor leaders charge that rivalry between new and old unions is an orchestrated plot to destroy South Africa’s labor movement.

Others hint darkly at political manipulation. Some talk of collusion by mining companies.

What’s clear is that the fallout from new union rivalry and the government’s violent reaction could affect the future of President Jacob Zuma and his African National Congress.

Thirty-four strikers were shot dead by police in a three-minute barrage of automatic gunfire last week that also injured 78 others. The incident traumatized a nation that thought it had seen the last of state violence with the end of apartheid in 1994.

Ten other people were killed the week before, including two police officers hacked to death with machetes by strikers who also burned alive two mine security guards.

The brutal violence occurred at the strike at the Lonmin platinum mine in Marikana by the new Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union, which has won over tens of thousands of members in a matter of months in its bid to unseat the long-established and politically connected National Union of Mineworkers.

The new union charges that the national union is no longer aggressively pressing for higher wages and better working conditions because its leadership is too entrenched with the government and is cozying up to the management of big mining firms.

The older unions, which played a vital role in the struggle against apartheid, are trying to reassert themselves.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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