World leaders reacted with outrage to a Libyan court’s decision Dec. 19 to again sentence to death six medical workers charged with deliberately infecting of over 400 children with HIV. The continuing saga threatens to derail Moammar Qaddafi’s delicately crafted attempts to re-engage with the international community. Secretary of State Condolezza Rice said the United States was “very disappointed with the outcome” and would like to see the medical workers released and “allowed to go home at the earliest possible date.” Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov called the decision “exceedingly cruel.” “I am shocked by this kind of decision. It’s […]

NAIROBI, Kenya — Three years after the African Union began planning to establish a robust African Standby Force for peacekeeping missions, progress continues despite funding challenges and the reality check of a difficult AU peacekeeping mission in Sudan. The AU peacekeeping mission deployed in Sudan’s troubled Darfur region has failed to prevent violence against civilians, and that conflict has now spread into neighboring Chad and the Central African Republic. The dilemma facing Gen. Luke Afrazi, the Nigerian commander of African peacekeepers in Darfur, highlights the resource demands placed on peacekeeping missions. Afrazi has watched from the sidelines as Sudanese militias, […]

Kenyans heaved a collective sigh of relief this month following President Mwai Kibaki’s rejection of a huge pay raise given to him by the country’s sleaze-ridden parliament. Kibaki, the country’s third president, caved in to public pressure Dec. 13 and declined a hefty salary increase that would have netted him more than $44,000 a month. But Kenyans remain suspicious of their corrupt politicians, always scheming to rob the public purse. The country has reportedly lost over $1 billion — nearly a fifth of its state budget — to corruption since Kibaki took office in 2002. Elected on an anti-corruption ticket […]

Five Bulgarian nurses and one Palestinian doctor accused of intentionally infecting over 400 children with HIV as part of a CIA and Israeli intelligence plot are scheduled to have their fate decided by order of the Libyan high court on Dec. 19. On May 6, 2004, the six defendants were sentenced to death by firing squad in a trial observers say flaunted disrespect for human rights in every respect. Nine Libyan health workers also charged in the case were acquitted the same day. Libya’s Supreme Court threw out the verdict in early 2005 following Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi’s efforts to […]

ON THE BOUAKE-YAMOUSSOUKRO ROAD, Ivory Coast — For the passengers on this bus, the trip started encroaching upon its fifth hour. Most had abandoned rebel-held Bouake, headquarters of the New Forces, for the bright lights of Abidjan, where they had families and business. But their bus had been stopped before Yamoussoukro, the Ivorian capital. Armed government customs agents ordered the driver and his crew to unload all the baggage from the bus, where it could be opened and inspected for possible infractions. Few, if any, were found. The bus driver, his shirt stained with sweat, somewhat shrugged off the delay. […]

Things just got worse for Halima, a displaced woman I found nursing burns from a militia attack in Darfur six months ago. Security is at a premium for war-scarred Halima and tens of thousands of other refugees hunkering down in squalid camps studded across war-torn Darfur in western Sudan. Just days after the African Union extended its limp mandate in the blood-soaked region unil mid-2007, its poorly equipped troops — deployed to protect Halima and others — are now running scared. They could be attacked anytime by Khartoum-sponsored Arab militias, the “Janjaweed,” or bands of quicksilver rebels, the other side […]

BOUAKE, Ivory Coast — Officially, Ibrahim Ouattara, 32, is a nonentity in his country of birth. He has neither a passport nor an identification card to prove his citizenship. Should the resident of this central rebel-held city wish to change his status, Ouattara said he faces a Kafkaesque struggle because no one can apply for their identity papers outside of their town of residence. That requires all the paperwork to be sent to Abidjan, more than 300 kilometers away. There, he said, the bureaucracy inevitably leaves one item behind before sending it on for processing to another town where the […]

Last month’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation (FOCAC), the largest meeting of African and Chinese leaders in almost half a century, underscored Beijing’s growing interest in Africa. The attendees included Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premiere Wen Jiabao, as well as 48 African heads of state. The official purpose of the summit was to promote “friendship, peace, cooperation and development.” While much of the media’s attention has naturally focused on the expanding economic ties between China and Africa, Beijing’s increasing political and military presence on the continent also warrant greater attention. Sino-African commercial relations clearly have been booming. Trade rose 35 […]

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CAIRO, Egypt — During the latest protest against sexual harassment here last month, women were once again the victims of harassment. This time, however, the assaulters were none other than Egypt’s security policemen. At a Nov. 15 protest, female protesters were stalked, groped, shoved and pushed around. In one case, a woman in flowing black robes and a colorful bright scarf was held by the arm, dragged over a flight of stairs and shaken by her veil as bystanders and a fellow male protestor were hurled back. The humiliated young woman — in her early twenties — was not the […]