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Defence ministers meet on DR Congo
by Staff Writers
Goma, Dr Congo (AFP) Aug 17, 2012

Guinea army chief named as diplomat, replaced
Conakry (AFP) Aug 17, 2012 - Guinea's army chief General Bondouka Conde has been replaced after being named as defence attache to the country's embassy in the United States, said a presidential decree published Friday.

According to the decree, signed by President Alpha Conde, the former army chief has been replaced by Colonel Fode Keita, who commanded a battalion in central Guinea. No reason was given for the shuffle.

Conde has been army chief since 2010. His advisor Salifou Camara told AFP he was being moved to the Guinean embassy in the United States.

In May he was questioned for several hours by a Guinean court over an attack on the president's home in July last year by soldiers in which a presidential guard was killed and several people injured.

He was accused of "negligence and lack of a quick reaction from his men" during the attack.

More than 60 people were arrested during the investigation into the attack which was branded an assassination attempt by goverment. Seventeen of the accused have been released and two have died in custody.

Seven defence ministers from Africa's central Great Lakes region have met in Goma in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo to try to tackle unrest there, a statement said.

The ministers from Angola, Burundi, Congo, DR Congo, Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda held talks overnight Thursday and "identified urgent actions needed with a view to ensuring that combat ceases completely in eastern DR Congo," the final communique said.

They "prepared the means for making operational a neutral international force to deploy in the east of DR Congo," under a mandate from the African Union and with UN backing.

The force should comprise troops from African countries, the text said, without giving details.

Eastern DR Congo has been volatile and rife with rival militia and rebel forces since the end in 2003 of a war that engulfed large tracts of the vast central African country.

Most recently, the DR Congo army has been fighting deserters who have formed a rebel group called M23 and who are ethnic Tutsis who were incorporated into the army in 2009, but contend that the peace accord was never fully implemented in their favour.

The neutral force is expected to hold off attacks by M23 and be deployed along the border between DR Congo and Rwanda, which the UN has accused of backing the M23 rebels, a charge strongly denied by Kigali.

The ministers in the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) were accompanied by their chiefs of general staff and by their intelligence chiefs, who met prior to the ministerial talks.

They have sent a report to Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni, who will president it at the next summit of the ICGLR, which takes place next month.

During talks in Kampala on July 7, heads of state failed to reach an agreement on the composition of the neutral force, which was decided upon in Addis Ababa on the sidelines of an African Union summit.

The heads of state agreed to meet again in Kampala early in September.

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Tunisia president ex-advisor tried for 'denigrating army'
Tunis (AFP) Aug 17, 2012 - A former advisor to Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki has learnt he is being tried on charges of "denigrating" the army, after having accused senior officials of treason, his lawyer told AFP on Friday.

Ayoub Messaoudi has been charged with defamation and "denigrating a military institution," crimes which carry potential prison jails of two and three years respectively, Charfeddine El Kellil said, adding the verdict is due on Wednesday.

The accused himself only learnt that he was on trial on Thursday at Tunis airport, where he was presented with a ban on leaving the country.

Kellil was unable to give more details about the charges against his client that were filed by the army chief of staff, General Rachid Ammar, and Defence Minister Abdelkarim Zbidi.

Messaoudi had accused the two men in a television broadcast in July of "treason" for not having informed the president in advance of the extradition of former Libyan premier Baghdadi al-Mahmudi to Tripoli to face justice.

Prime Minister Hamadi Jebali ordered the transfer at the end of June, causing a political crisis within Tunisia's ruling coalition, led by Jebali's moderate Islamist Ennahda party.

Marzouki, who belongs to the centre-left Congress for the Republic, was furious with the decision, having always expressed doubts about the ability of the new Libyan regime to guarantee Moamer Kadhafi's last premier a fair trial.


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South Africa's lion bones: Asia's new delicacy
Potchefstroom, South Africa (AFP) Aug 16, 2012
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