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World in brief: President turns power over to VP

Tue., April 1, 2008, midnight

Botswana’s president steps down today, handing over power in the kind of smooth transition for which the country is known – one that contrasts sharply with the political turmoil in neighboring Zimbabwe.

On a continent where leaders are all too often accused of holding on long past their mandate, Festus Mogae, 69, is giving up power before the end of his second term. That allows his vice president, Seretse Ian Khama, a former army commander and the son of Botswana first’s president, to run as an incumbent in elections next year.

While Mogae may claim to set a standard for democracy in Africa, democracy activists and opposition members here complain about “automatic succession.” The Botswana Democratic Party, in power since the former British protectorate gained independence in 1966, virtually anoints the next head of state and is expected to continue its dominance in the face of a weak and divided opposition.

In Zimbabwe on Monday, the opposition claimed victory in the elections, while a slow trickle in official results raised fears that supporters of President Robert Mugabe were rigging the count.

The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission offered no results in the presidential race. And the body took 24 hours to release results from just 90 parliamentary seats out of the 128 contested.


Coroner rules out Diana conspiracy

A coroner rejected a conspiracy theory in the death of Princess Diana Monday, ruling there is no proof that Prince Philip or British secret agents had anything to do with the car crash that also killed her boyfriend Dodi Fayed.

In instructions to the jury, Lord Justice Scott Baker left open the possibility that the couple’s driver and the paparazzi who pursued them through Paris on Aug. 31, 1997, caused the crash through recklessness. The panel was also asked to consider whether the crash was an accident.

“There is no evidence that the Duke of Edinburgh ordered Diana’s execution and there is no evidence that the Secret Intelligence Service or any other government agency organized it,” Baker told the 11-member jury.

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico

Detainee charged with war crimes

A Guantanamo detainee who allegedly helped plan the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania that killed 11 people was charged Monday with war crimes that carry a possible death penalty.

Ahmed Kalfan Ghailani – who was held in secret CIA custody before being transferred in 2006 to the U.S. military prison in Cuba – also allegedly purchased and transported the explosives used in the attack and scouted the embassy with a suicide bomber.

Al-Qaida’s twin suicide truck-bomb attacks on the U.S. embassies in Tanzania and Kenya on Aug. 7, 1998, killed more than 220 people, including 12 Americans, and injured more than 4,000. No Americans died in the attack in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania.


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