Security forces in Madagascar's capital fired teargas to disperse looters after an anti-government protest March 2. Thousands of opposition supporters took to the streets of Antananarivo to support sacked Mayor Andry Rajoelina's call for daily protests aimed at forcing President Marc Ravalomanana to step down. A power struggle between Rajoelina, a 34-year-old former disc jockey, and Ravalomanana has led to the worst civil unrest in years in the island nation, leaving 125 dead since the protest campaign began in late January. Two were killed Feb. 27 when police fired on a protest in the southern town of Fianarantsoa. (Reuters, March 2; AFP, Feb. 28)
Some 60 are confirmed dead, 100 wounded and an undetermined number displaced following clashes this week between the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) and supporters of a local militia commander whose forces are officially integrated with the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) in Malakal, capital of Upper Nile state. The flare-up has renewed fears that conflict could resume in the region, two years before the end of the six-year interim period designated by the 2005 Sudan Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA).
The Special Court for Sierra Leone (SCSL) Feb. 25 found three former guerrilla leaders guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity for their roles in the country's civil war. Issa Hassan Sesay, Morris Kallon, and Augustine Gbao are the three highest-ranking surviving Revolutionary United Front (RUF) leaders, after founder Foday Sankoy died before being tried in 2003. Of 18 charges, Sesay and Kallon were found guilty of 16 offenses and Gbao was found guilty of 14 offenses.
Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed, the new president of Somalia's transition government, responded Feb. 5 to the formation of a new alliance of rebel factions, asking the opposition leaders to lay down their arms and join the government. "We are requesting our brothers to work with us in restoring peace and unity," he said, adding that he is willing to open a dialogue with all opponents and would welcome their participation in government.
From the BBC News, Feb. 1:
Scores killed in Kenya oil fire
At least 111 people have died in Kenya after an overturned petrol tanker caught fire on a highway and exploded. Reports say the fire broke out after hundreds of people gathered to collect spilled fuel.
George Obama, half-brother of President Barack Obama, was arrested and jailed for possession of one joint in Nairobi, Kenya, Jan. 31. "They took me from my home," he said, denying the charge against him. "I don't know why they are charging me." Obama was charged with possession of marijuana and resisting arrest. He is currently at Huruma police station awaiting a court hearing.
Tokyo is preparing to dispatch Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers to protect Japanese commercial vessels from pirates off Somalia. The issue of use of force against the pirates is likely to hotly contested in legislation the government is readying to allow the mission. "Basically, MSDF anti-piracy measures should be dealt with under a new law," Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said, raising further fears of an erosion of Japan's pacifist constitution.