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Mali coup leader 'in sync' with govt on reclaiming north
by Staff Writers
Bamako (AFP) Sept 11, 2012

I. Coast launches probe into 2002 death of ex-junta chief
Abidjan (AFP) Sept 11, 2012 - The military prosecutor in Abidjan said it launched a probe Tuesday into the death of former junta chief General Robert Guei 10 years ago.

Guei, the military ruler of the west African nation for just 10 months from December 1999 to October 2000, was killed under mysterious circumstances on September 19, 2002 in the middle of a bloody coup attempt against then-president Laurent Gbagbo.

The investigation, launched at the request of Guei's family, comes just in time to beat a 10-year limitation period that would have expired next week, said military prosecutor Ange Kessi.

Guei reluctantly handed power to Gbagbo after losing a presidential election to him in 2000. He had been accused of masterminding the failed 2002 coup, which unleashed a conflict that went on to split the country in two.

The general was once seen as an ally of current President Alassane Ouattara, who defeated Gbagbo in a December 2010 election but took the reins of power only after a bloody five-month conflict between the two rivals' loyalists in which some 3,000 people died.

The leader of the March 22 coup in Mali said he is "in sync" with the country's transitional government and supports interim president Dioncounda Traore's efforts to reclaim the rebel-held north.

After the coup, which plunged the once stable democracy into chaos, Captain Amadou Haya Sanogo and his fellow putschists initially tried to block mediators' efforts to install Traore as transitional president charged with restoring constitutional rule and winning the north back from Islamist rebels.

But in an interview Monday with Malian public TV station ORTM, Sanogo said he supported Traore's handling of the crisis in the north, after the interim leader rejected an offer of a regional military intervention but asked for west African troops to provide logistical support.

Sanogo said Traore's September 1 letter requesting help from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to reconquer the north had not stepped on the Malian army's toes by asking for foreign troops to do the national military's job.

"At no point in this request is there any question of troops to secure the institutions of the Malian Republic," Sanogo said, adding that Traore had expressed confidence in the national army's fitness.

"He asked for technical equipment... to help the armed forces," he told ORTM, saying foreign troops would provide logistical support only when "the Malian armed forces feel they need help from their neighbours".

"I must say that the interim president, Dioncounda Traore, the prime minister, Cheick Modibo Diarra, and myself are in sync," Sanogo said.

"We consult each other, we see each other often and we discuss the major decisions concerning the life of the nation."

Sanogo and the other mid-level officers who staged the coup justified the action by saying President Amadou Toumani Toure had not been doing enough to fight a Tuareg separatist rebellion in the north.

Al-Qaeda-linked Islamists took advantage of the ensuing chaos to seize control of the region, a vast desert region larger than France or Texas, together with the secular Tuareg rebels.

The Islamists then chased out their one-time allies and have imposed strict sharia law, including public floggings for sex out of wedlock and amputations for theft.

Sanogo told residents of the north, who he said are "suffering" daily, that the Malian army had not forgotten them.

"Your army, at a certain point, at a critical phase, needed to pull back to better be able to attack," he said.

"Silence is not forgetting."

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Imprisoned British pilot released from CAR
London (UPI) Sep 11, 2012 - A British pilot held in the Central African Republic as part of a massacre investigation has been freed, British Foreign Secretary William Hague says.

David Simpson, 24, a bush pilot working in Africa on behalf of a Swedish safari hunting firm, spent 162 days in a prison in the CAR capital of Bangui after being accused of involvement in the massacre of 13 gold miners.

The pilot said he and other employees of his company stumbled across the bodies in March and reported them to authorities but, after the military investigated, he was quickly arrested and accused of committing the slayings himself.

He and 12 other staff members of his company were imprisoned without charges.

But Hague announced Saturday Simpson was back in Britain following dismissal of the charges.

"I am delighted to confirm that David Simpson is now back in the U.K.," Hague said in a statement. "Government ministers and officials have worked hard on his behalf. I raised the case with Central African Republic Foreign Minister (Antoine) Gambi in August and am pleased that his case has now been resolved.

"(The) Foreign Office Minister for Africa, Mark Simmonds, has spoken to Mr. Simpson's family to pass on his and my best wishes."

Evidence from the brutal and ritualistic slayings seemed to point to the involvement of the Ugandan warlord Joseph Kony and his Lord's Resistance Army, a militant group comprised of child and ex-child soldiers, The Guardian reported.

But Simpson said he and others from the Central African Wildlife Adventures group were implicated through false testimony and bribe-seeking officials in the notoriously corrupt former French colony.

After being imprisoned in the Ngaragba Central Prison, Simpson was put under house arrest when the jail was stormed by rioters and destroyed this month. Simpson was returned to prison shortly thereafter.

Simpson contacted malaria more than once and subsisted on cassava mash and meat stew while sharing his cell with a dozen other suspected criminals, he told The Sunday Telegraph.

The pilot said he tried to keep sane by running laps in the courtyard and reading novels supplied to him by the CAR's British counsel.

Simpson arrived at his parents' Yorkshire home Saturday, telling ITV News: "It's great, it's great. I've been thinking about this day for a long time and it's good to be finally here. It's just a little crazy from Bangui to Gillamore (Yorkshire) in a day, it's crazy, it's such a different world but it's very good to be home."

Simpson's father, Pete Simpson, blasted CAR authorities.

"There doesn't seem to be any respect for a young life and they would rather implicate innocent people than find out who had done it all and that's what I don't understand," he said. "I don't understand that at all."


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Nigeria trains more peacekeeping troops
Abuja, Nigeria (UPI) Sep 6, 2012
Nigeria is expanding its program of training troops for peacekeeping operations. Nigeria's Minister of State for Defense Erelu Olusola Obada made the observation when the President of the Economic Community of West African States Parliament Kadiri Desire visited Obada's ministry in Abuja. Nigeria will continue to play a peacekeeping "big brother" role in West Africa, with Nigeria ... read more

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