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Sarkozy tries to shake up race with eurosceptic turn PARIS: After an initial bid to run for re-election as self-styled saviour of the euro, Nicolas Sarkozy has launched a bid to shake up his lacklustre polling numbers with a surprise new eurosceptic stance. With barely six weeks to go before the first round of voting, and with the French leader’s Socialist opponent Francois Hollande still frontrunner for the presidency, Sarkozy struck a strident new tone in a Sunday rally. He threatened to pull France out of the Schengen open borders agreement and demanded the European Union adopt measures to fight cheap imports, warning that France might otherwise pass a unilateral “Buy French” law. “I want a Europe that protects its citizens. I no longer want this savage competition,” he declared to a cheering crowd. “I have lost none of my will to act, my will to make things change, my belief in the genius of France.” Sarkozy’s right-

wing supporters were delighted, both in the large conference hall in the Paris suburbs where his speech received an ecstatic reception, and in media interviews and on Internet message forums afterwards. But the left was quick to attack what they saw as a populist stunt. “I felt I wasn’t listening to a French president, because a French president always wants to build Europe, push it forward. This was a conservative British prime minister,” said Hollande’s campaign manager Pierre Moscovici. Moscovici said Britain had led opposition to the Schengen accords-under which most EU members agreed to abandon border controls between the states-and said Sarkozy’s threat was a “phenomenal step backwards”. From the far left, presidential candidate Jean-Luc Melenchon scorned what he dubbed a late conversion to euroscepticism from a

leader who had hitherto demonstrated a “particular case of European servility”. Melenchon boasted that his “Left Front”, a coalition of Communist and far left socialists, had pioneered the idea of disobeying EU laws when they run contrary to French national interests. On the far right, Marine Le Pen and her National Front have gone further than Sarkozy in demanding that France quit the euro and close its borders. Thus far in the campaign, Europe has been seen as a more difficult issue for Hollande than for Sarkozy, who has received the more or less open backing of the right-wing leaders of Germany, Spain and Britain. Hollande, by contrast, has been warned that his vow to renegotiate Europe’s hard-won debt pact could see Paris isolated among its allies. But commentators in the French press said yesterday that Sarkozy’s

new tack had confused his message, and could offend France’s allies. “Yesterday he was accused by Nicolas Sarkozy of calling France’s word into question. This morning, Francois Hollande may look a very moderate reformer in the eyes of our neighbours,” wrote Herve Favre in La Voix du Nord. “So, will his conservative counterparts in London, Madrid and Berlin, who snubbed Francois Hollande because he wants to renegotiate the latest EU treaty, now in turn boycott Nicolas Sarkozy?” demanded Bruno Dive in SudOuest. A first round of voting in the presidential election will take place on April 22, followed by a run-off between the top two candidates on May 6. All recent opinion polls forecast that Hollande will win a closefought first round and then enjoy a comfortable victory against Sarkozy in the second. —AFP

BLAGNAC: French far-right Front National (FN) party’s candidate for the 2012 French presidential election, Marine Le Pen gives a press conference focused on research yesterday in Blagnac, southern France. —AFP

Kenya arrests four over deadly grenade attacks Suspect having links to Shebab, Kenyan affiliates

THE HAGUE: New Presiding judge of the Court Peter Tomka from Slovakia, center, Vice-President of the Court Bernardo Sepulveda-Amor from Mexico, left and Judge Hisashi Owada from Japan, at the start of a hearing at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, Netherlands, yesterday. Lawyers for Belgium are urging judges at the United Nations’ highest court to order Senegal to either prosecute former Chad dictator Hissene Habre, 69, or extradite him to face trial in Belgium for atrocities during his brutal eight-year rule. —AP

Belgium seeks world court order on ex-Chad leader THE HAGUE: Lawyers for Belgium urged the United Nations’ highest court yesterday to order Senegal to prosecute former Chad dictator Hissene Habre or extradite him for trial for allegedly masterminding atrocities during his brutal eight-year rule. Habre has lived in a luxury villa in Senegal’s capital, Dakar, since rebels ousted him 1990 and has become a symbol of Africa’s inability to try leaders from the continent accused of rights abuses. The case at the International Court of Justice is about “taking a stand against impunity in the most serious crimes in international law,” Belgian representative Paul Rietjens told judges in the wood paneled Great Hall of Justice. Belgium indicted Habre in 2005 for crimes against humanity, war crimes and torture based on complaints by survivors of his regime, some of whom have Belgian citizenship, but has failed to persuade Senegal to extradite him to Brussels despite repeated requests. “These victims are entitled to see the person they accuse of these crimes brought to justice,” Rietjens said. “Justice delayed is justice denied.” Belgium accuses Senegal of breaching its obligations under the convention that says countries holding people accused of torture have a duty to either prosecute or extradite them. “Senegal has been and continues to be in breach of its obligations under the torture convention,” said lawyer Sir Michael Wood. Senegal will present its arguments starting Thursday and judges are likely to take months to reach a decision. International Court of Justice rulings are binding. Senegal’s chief representative Cheikh Tidiane Thiam said after Monday’s hearing that his country was moving as fast as it could. “Senegal is doing its best in a timeframe we consider reasonable,” he told reporters outside court. The African Union last year urged Senegal to prosecute or extradite Habre. Days later, Dakar said it would send him

back to Chad, where he has been convicted in his absence of crimes against the state and sentenced to death. That announcement caused an uproar as activists feared he would not get a fair trial at home and days later, Senegal backtracked on the threat to deport Habre. Despite repeatedly saying it wants to put Habre on trial, Senegal has dragged its feet for years, arguing it needs outside help to fund the case. After initially saying a trial would cost up to euro29 million, Senegal agreed at a donor’s conference in 2010 to a budget of euro8.6 million ($11.3 million). “Senegalese authorities have still not taken any concrete action to investigate or prosecute,” said Gerard Dive of Belgium’s federal justice service. According to a Human Rights Watch report, Habre seized power in 1982 and swiftly established a brutal dictatorship to stamp out any opposition, but was finally toppled by current Chad President Idriss Deby in 1990. A Chadian commission of inquiry concluded Habre’s regime killed and tortured tens of thousands of political opponents. “Under Habre, a wife was afraid of her husband and vice versa and they were both afraid of their children,” said lawyer Jacqueline Moudeina, who represents survivors of Habre’s regime. “Chadians were afraid of their own shadow.” Habre’s Senegal-based lawyer El Hadj Diouf has called the international court case a “new kind of judicial imperialism” and said Belgium should give Senegal the chance to try Habre. But activists say Senegal has had more than enough time and now the world court should turn over the case to Belgium. “For us, the case is ... what we would call in America a slam dunk,” said Re e d Bro d y , a Hum an R ight s W at c h activist who has long fought for justice for Habre’s victims. “Senegal has an obligation to prosecute or extradite. It has been 21 years and they have not done it.” —AP

MOSCOW: Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, left, speaks to Economic Development Minister Elvira Nabiullina in Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow yesterday. —AP

NAIROBI: Kenyan police said yesterday they arrested four people over weekend grenade attacks in Nairobi that killed six people and which Kenya blames on supporters of Somali Islamist insurgents. “On the Al-Shebab threats and attacks at the Machakos bus terminus, four highly suspected criminals were arrested and are undergoing intensive interrogation,” Nairobi Provincial Police chief Antony Kibuchi said. Six people were killed and more than 60 wounded when four hand grenades were hurled at a crowd in a bus terminus in the Kenyan capital on Saturday. The suspects, all of whom are believed to be Kenyan, three of them reportedly minors, were being interrogated by specialised police units, including anti-terrorism officers, a police source said. The Al-Qaeda allied Shebab has threatened

Kenya since it sent its troops into south Somalia in mid-October to attack bases of the insurgents, whom Nairobi accuses of a series of kidnappings and attacks on its territory. One of the men arrested had been on a police wanted list, suspected of having links to Shebab and Kenyan affiliates. Saturday’s attack was the deadliest in Nairobi since one in June 2010, not attributed to Islamists, during a public meeting against the adoption of a new constitution, in which the death toll was also six. Neither attack came close to the devastating Al-Qaeda car bombing of the US embassy in August 1998 that killed 213 people and injured 5,000. Forty-two people wounded in Saturday’s attacks were still being treated in hospital yesterday, police said. In Somalia, regional armies

are pushing against Shebab positions, with Kenyan forces in the far south, Ethiopian soldiers in the west and African Union forces in Mogadishu made up of troops from Uganda, Burundi and Djibouti. In retaliation, the Shebab have carried out grenade attacks and abductions in areas near the porous Kenya-Somalia border, killing and wounding several people. Last October, less than two weeks after the Kenyan army sent troops and tanks into Somalia, two grenade attacks in the space of less than 24 hours killed one person and wounded 30. The International Crisis Group said in a November report that Nairobi should cool its high hopes of defeating the Shebab, a ruthless and resilient militia fighting to overthrow the Western-backed government in lawless Somalia. —AFP

Gunmen kill three near Nigerian flashpoint city LAGOS: Gunmen shot dead three Christians in Nigeria near the flashpoint city of Jos, hours after 10 people were killed in a suicide bombing and related violence at a church, an official said yesterday. In a separate incident in the northern city of Kano, gunmen in a car opened fire early yesterday on a police station that has been the target of several attacks, wounding two officers, according to residents. The gunmen near Jos struck late Sunday in a village south of the city where ChristianMuslim tensions ran high after the church attack, state government spokesman Pam Ayuba told AFP, though the two attacks were not thought to be linked. “Unknown gunmen, in an apparent ambush late Sunday, waylaid and shot dead three people and injured three others-all Christians-in Chugwi village,” Ayuba said. Such violence has occurred repeatedly in and around Jos, located in the middle belt region of Africa’s most populous nation between the mainly Muslim north and predominantly Christian south. Clashes between Christian and Muslim ethnic groups in the area have killed thousands in recent years. “We suspect that the attackers were herdsmen. They left with the handsets of those killed and called numbers on their phones to alert their (the victims’) relations that they were responsible for the killings,” he said from the scene of the attack. Ayuba, who is a native of the Christian village, said no arrests have been made. The victims included two brothers aged 25 and 30, he said. Three other people at Dogo Garba, a nearby hamlet, were wounded by the same gunmen and were taken to a nearby government hospital for treatment, he added. The shootings came hours after a suicide attack outside a Roman Catholic church in Jos killed seven people, sparking panic and reprisals in which security forces opened fire and youths clashed, leaving three others dead. It was the second suicide attack on a church in the city in two weeks, after a February 26 attack claimed by Islamist group Boko Haram killed three people and injured dozens. Government and relief officials told AFP that in addition to the 10 killed, 24 people were injured and had been taken to three government hospitals in the city. Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan condemned Sunday’s bombing and reaffirmed his government’s determination “to end the spate of mindless attacks and killings”. Jos remained tense in the aftermath of the bombing amid fears of a repeat of deadly riots which followed last month’s attack. The volatile city was gradually returning to normal yesterday morning with banks and shops opening for business, residents said. No one has claimed responsibility for Sunday’s bombing. Yesterday’s attack in Kano occurred at Mandawari police station, which has been repeatedly targeted by suspected members of Boko Haram. Boko Haram carried out its deadliest attack yet in Kano, Nigeria’s second-largest city, with coordinated bombings and shootings on January 20 which killed 185 people. —AFP

BELGRADE: Serbian President Boris Tadic (3R) and widow of the assassinated Serbian Prime Minister Zoran Djindjic, Ruzica Djindjic (C) flanked by Serbian officials arrive at Belgrade’s new cemetery yesterday. Hundreds of supporters paid tribute to late reformist Serbian prime minister on the anniversary of his 2003 assassination. Djindjic was the Balkan country’s first democratically elected prime minister. He is best remembered for striving to bring Serbia closer to Europe after late strongman Slobodan Milosevic was ousted in a popular uprising in October 2000. —AFP

Angola anti-government protest triggered clash LUANDA: Angolan police are investigating a weekend clash in the capital Luanda between young anti-government protesters calling for the resignation of President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and pro-government supporters who confronted them. Witnesses said at least three protesters were injured when individuals dressed in plain clothes, some armed with sticks, moved in to disperse the small demonstration on Saturday by about 30 young people in the poor suburb of Cazenga. The demonstrators called for Dos Santos to quit. They also called for the removal of Susana Ingles, whose re-appointment as the head of Angola’s national elections committee in January has raised political tensions ahead of an election later this year in subSaharan Africa’s second biggest oil producer. “The National Police received complaints that two different groups were confronting each other in Cazenga and it is presumed the groups had different philosophies,” a police spokesman said, quoted by the Portuguese news agency Lusa late on Sunday. “Some support the democratically-elected state institutions and others contest the authorities,” he added, saying that the police, who arrived at the scene after the clash ended, would continue investigating the incident. Several protests were attempted last year by a budding anti-government youth movement in Angola, presenting a rare challenge to the 32-year rule of Dos Santos. Most of the protests were blocked by police and one resulted in several arrests and injuries to protesters, journalists and police officers. Opponents of the government say national elections committee chief Ingles is linked to Dos Santos’ ruling MPLA party and so cannot guarantee a free and fair vote in parliamentary elections to be held in the third

quarter of this year. The parliamentary election will be only the second in Angola since the end of a 27year civil war in 2002, and will elect the country’s president as well as lawmakers. The MPLA has defended Ingles’ re-appointment saying it was an impartial decision by the Magistrates Superior Council and that opposition parties’ criticism has been aimed at causing instability in the run up to the election. The main opposition party UNITA has threatened to organise its own protests if further appeals and talks with the ruling party about the issue are not satisfactory. Human rights organisations have long accused Dos Santos’ government of avoiding public scrutiny, repressing protest and dissent and mismanaging the country’s oil revenues. At the Cazenga protest on Saturday, the demonstrators shouted “Violence no, freedom yes!” and carried banners saying “Susana (Ingles), get out of the CNE (national elections committee)”. They dispersed after an unidentified person fired a shot in the air. Earlier, some 15 unidentified individuals in plain clothes, some wielding sticks, had moved to break up the demonstration. They appeared well organised and commanded by one of their number, witnesses said. At least one protester was caried away by colleagues with his face bloodied. Lusa said a senior member of the Bloco Democratico opposition party had also suffered injuries at the protest and was later assaulted by unidentified men outside a clinic in Luanda. The agency said police declined to comment on this. Opposition parties argue Ingles’ re-appointment violates election laws because they say she does not fit the legal requirements to head the committee as she is a lawyer and not a magistrate court judge. —Reuters

13 Mar 2012  

Kuwait Times

13 Mar 2012  

Kuwait Times