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World in brief: War veterans stage rally for Mugabe

Sat., April 5, 2008, midnight

War veterans marched Friday in Zimbabwe’s capital – a muscular show of support for President Robert Mugabe, whose party said he would fight to retain his 28-year grip on power in a runoff election with the opposition leader.

A week after Morgan Tsvangirai’s opposition party made a strong showing at the polls, it was clear the 84-year-old Mugabe still had at his disposal the feared veterans of the bush war that helped end white minority rule, as well as the backing of the equally feared security forces. Offices of the main opposition party were ransacked Thursday, and police detained foreign journalists.

Mugabe has ruled since his guerrilla army helped bring about an independent Zimbabwe in 1980, but his popularity has been battered by an economic slide.

With inflation in Zimbabwe raging at more than 100,000 percent, authorities introduced a new bank note denominated at 50 million Zimbabwe dollars Friday, state media said. The new note is worth $1 at the widely used black market trading rate and can buy just three loaves of bread.


Pirates take yacht, 30 crew members

Pirates seized control of a French luxury yacht carrying 30 crew members Friday off the coast of Somalia, the French government said.

Attackers stormed the 288-foot Le Ponant as it returned without passengers from the Seychelles, in the Indian Ocean, toward the Mediterranean Sea, said officials with French maritime transport company CMA-CGM.

“The Defense and Foreign Ministries are mobilized to act as quickly as possible, I hope in the coming minutes or hours to try to win the freedom of these hostages,” said Prime Minister Francois Fillon. He did not elaborate.

France has considerable military resources in the region, including a base in Djibouti and a naval flotilla circulating in the Indian Ocean.


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