Zimbabwe Electoral Commission launches recount

Here we go, then — Mugabe’s cronies helping him snatch this election. The ZEC has ordered and begun a recount in 23 constituencies — all of which went for the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. Also, South African President Thabo Mbeki is surely complicit in this. A Chinese ship carrying arms to Zimbabwe has left a South African port after workers refused to unload it, but the South African government said it would not interfere with the ship.

It’s time for the world to start pressuring Mr Mbeki. It’s obvious he has lost the confidence of one of the parties he’s supposed to be mediating, as MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai has already asked him to step aside. It’s a pretty clear-cut case of favouritism for Robert Mugabe.

Mr Mbeki’s “quiet diplomacy” clearly has not been working as the recent developments — e.g. accusations of treason against Morgan Tsvangirai — have shown. If quiet diplomacy was working, that wouldn’t have happened. Thabo Mbeki is complicit in the Zimbabwe situation and will be complicit if any violence breaks out — which is surely why the arms are being shipped to the government in Harare? If Mugabe is to go, Mbeki has to go first, at least as ‘mediator’ in this conflict.

Kenya deadlock broken

The BBC reports that former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has secured a breakthrough in mediation efforts between President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga in Kenya. The BBC’s Nairobi correspondent, Adam Mynott, says that an opposition spokesman has suggested a joint interim government has been reached between the two sides.

This might just finally bring an end to all the killing in Kenya. The death toll is probably in its thousands, with tens of thousands more displaced. Let’s hope this works out.

February 7, 2008 – review

It’s the Lunar New Year holiday so these few days will see updates few and far between.

Here’s my pick of today’s top stories.

BBC: OSCE to boycott Russian elections
Sure-fire way of making relations between Brussels and Moscow worse.

BBC: Chad to pardon French kidnappers
One wonders if this is linked to France’s help in repelling rebel forces from N’Djamena over the past week.

BBC: Capello wins opener
Italian-born new England coach Fabio Capello’s first match in charge of England ends in a 2-1 win over Switzerland.

BBC: Australia releases whaling photos
Japan really has to explain this. They cannot be allowed to get away with this.

CNN: Pakistani police arrest 2 suspects in Bhutto assassination
First step towards solving the mystery.

France evacuates further 363 to Paris as fighting intensifies

The French government has taken further steps to evacuate foreign civilians from N’Djamena, Chad, as fighting there between government forces and Khartoum-backed rebels intensifies. According to the BBC, thousands of people have fled N’Djamena.

The government claims to have defeated the rebels, who say they have withdrawn only to give civilians an opportunity to leave. Reuters reports that thousands of people have fled across the border to Cameroon at N’Djamena and Kousseri.
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France evacuates 400 from N’Djamena

And so the mass exodus begins. France has today evacuated 400 French and foreign citizens from the capital of Chad, N’Djamena, following fresh fighting in the city. The civilians were evacuated to Libreville, the capital of nearby Gabon. The BBC cites an Agence France-Presse scribe describing the evacuees as “harassed but happy” on arrival.

Evacuees arrive in Gabon. (Image: BBC News/AFP)
Evacuees arrive in Gabon. (Image: BBC News/AFP)
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Odinga and Kibaki have peace deal – Annan

Former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan announced late yesterday that Kenya’s ruling party, led by President Mwai Kibaki, and opposition Orange Democratic Movement, led by Raila Odinga, have come to an agreement on a way forward out of the current political deadlock and violence in the country.

According to the BBC, Mr Annan said that the two sides “have agreed an agenda covering both short-term issues and also long-term issues.”

I seriously hope this spells the start of the end of violence. It’s definitely not the end, but it’s a good start, as what the BBC’s correspondent says. I fear that nothing will happen unless Pres. Kibaki does step down in the end, however.

BBC reports new mammal discovery

Rhynochocyon udzungwensis (Image: BBC News)(Image: BBC News)

A new species of mammal has been discovered in the mountains of Tanzania, scientists report.The bizarre-looking creature, dubbed Rhynochocyon udzungwensis, is a type of giant elephant shrew, or sengi.The cat-sized animal, which is reported in the Journal of Zoology, looks like a cross between a miniature antelope and a small ant eater.

It has a grey face, a long, flexible snout, a bulky, amber body, a jet-black rump and it stands on spindly legs.

“This is one of the most exciting discoveries of my career,” said Galen Rathbun, from the California Academy of Sciences, who helped to confirm the animal was new to science along with and international team of colleagues.

More here. Interesting discovery. God that thing is ugly.