- - Wednesday, October 24, 2012


ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia — African Union officials are discussing the logistics for the deployment of an African-led international force against Islamist militants in Mali.

A top African Union official, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, said at the beginning of a security council meeting Wednesday that the force would help Mali recover occupied territories in its north.

Ms. Dlamini-Zuma said the AU also would leave the door open for those willing to participate in negotiations.

She urged African leaders to help the country “restore in earnest state authority over the northern part of the country.”

The March coup in Mali has led the northern region of the country to fall under the control of armed Islamist extremists that are allied to al Qaeda.

The top U.S. official on Africa has said military action to oust the militants is inevitable.


Rights lawyer missing after visit to a prison

JOHANNESBURG | Rights groups said Wednesday that a prominent human rights lawyer in Equatorial Guinea went missing two days ago during a visit to a prison, raising concerns he may be unlawfully detained.

Human Rights Watch and EG Justice called on the government to investigate Fabian Nsue Nguema’s disappearance. The groups said Mr. Nguema is active with the opposition party and has been harassed by the government before.

Human Rights Watch said Mr. Nguema went to Black Beach prison on Oct. 22 to meet with a client and did not return home. It said one family member reported they saw him in detention there.

Equatorial Guinean law prohibits secret and warrantless detentions, and stipulates that charges must be filed within 72 hours of an arrest. Authorities have violated these laws in recent months.


Gold mine to fire 12,000 striking workers

JOHANNESBURG — A spokesman for AngloGold Ashanti Ltd. said Wednesday that the company is set to fire about 12,000 South African workers on strike at three of its gold-mining operations outside Johannesburg.

Alan Fine said the workers failed to meet a deadline to return to work.

He said even as the company prepares to formally dismiss the workers, it is still holding talks with workers’ representatives to save their jobs.

Other companies have threatened striking miners with dismissal.

Anglo American Platinum Ltd. (Amplats), the world’s top producer of platinum, fired 12,000 workers earlier this month, and gold mining company Gold Fields Ltd. fired 8,500 striking miners Tuesday.

Amplats’ decision proved controversial, with South Africa’s trade federation now vowing to stage massive street protests in support of the fired miners.


Prosecutor says 3 plotted to poison president

COTONOU — The Benin president’s doctor and his niece were a part of a failed plot to poison the leader of the West African nation by changing his medicine with something toxic, the state prosecutor said.

Prosecutor Justin Gbenameto said Tuesday that Dr. Ibrahim Mama Cisse, former Trade Minister Moudjaidou Soumanou and Zouberatou Kora, one of the president’s nieces, have been charged with conspiracy and attempted murder.

The three were arrested Sunday and have been in a civil prison in Cotonou since.

Mr. Gbenameto said the niece and doctor were each promised $1.9 million if they carried out the poisoning, and that a fourth person, businessman Patrice Talon, also was involved in the plot.

The plot to poison Benin President Boni Yayi, however, was foiled because the president’s niece had informed her sister, who then told the president, the state prosecutor said.

The prosecutor said the plot was largely planned during the president’s recent visit to Brussels.


Sudan blames Israel for military factory blast

KHARTOUM — Israeli airstrikes caused an explosion and large fire at a military factory south of the capital, Khartoum, killing two people, Sudan’s government spokesman claimed Wednesday.

Information Minister Ahmed Belal Osman told reporters that four aircraft hit the Yarmouk complex, setting off an explosion that rocked the capital before dawn.

“Four planes coming from the east bombed the Yarmouk industrial complex,” Mr. Belal said. “They used sophisticated technology.”

He said his country has the right to respond and may take the issue to the U.N. Security Council.

Mr. Belal referred to a 2009 attack on an arms convoy in the Red Sea province in eastern Sudan, which his government also blamed on Israel.

“We are now certain that this flagrant attack was authorized by the same state of Israel. The main purpose is to frustrate our military capabilities and stop any development there and ultimately weaken our national sovereignty,” Mr. Belal said.

Israeli officials did not respond to requests for comment.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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