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In brief: Mali’s premier quits after arrest

Tue., Dec. 11, 2012, midnight

BAMAKO, Mali – Mali’s prime minister presented his resignation on state television in a broadcast at 4 a.m. local time today, hours after soldiers who led Mali’s recent coup arrested him at his home in Bamako.

Prime Minister Cheikh Modibo Diarra said in his address: “Men and women who are worried about the future of our nation, you are hoping for peace. It’s for this reason that I, Cheikh Modibo Diarra, am resigning along with my entire government.”

A police officer and an intelligence official who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press confirmed that soldiers loyal to Capt. Amadou Haya Sanogo, the leader of the March 21 coup, arrested Diarra at his home around 10 p.m. Monday. He was driven to their military base.

Doctors order more tests on Mandela

JOHANNESBURG – Doctors were conducting more tests on hospitalized former South African President Nelson Mandela, officials said Monday, while the government stressed that there was no cause for alarm over the health of the frail anti-apartheid icon.

Mandela, 94, was admitted to a hospital in Pretoria on Saturday after being moved from his rural hometown of Qunu, in the Eastern Cape province, where he has been living in recent years.

“Former President Nelson Mandela had a good night’s rest. The doctors will still conduct further tests today. He is in good hands,” Mac Maharaj, a spokesman for President Jacob Zuma, said in a statement.

Mandela retired from public life in 2004, after stepping down following one term as South Africa’s first black president.

Rebels capture part of Syrian army base

BEIRUT – Rebels captured part of a sprawling Syrian army base outside the embattled northern city of Aleppo, tightening the opposition’s grip on areas close to the Turkish border, activists said Monday.

The gains by rebel forces came as the European Union denounced the Syrian conflict, which activists say has killed more than 40,000 people.

“The current situation in Syria is a stain on the world’s conscience, and the international community has a moral duty to address it,” European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said in Oslo as the EU received the Nobel Peace Prize.

The rebels also killed 13 soldiers in an ambush near a strategic northern town along a road linking Aleppo, the nation’s largest city and business hub, with Damascus, and captured 20 soldiers and policemen at a major post on the highway linking the central town of Salamiyeh with the northern city of Raqqa, activists said.

Once on the defensive, Syria’s rebels have gained momentum in recent weeks with a number of tactical advances, seizing airbases near Damascus and Aleppo and putting President Bashar Assad’s forces on their heels.

In an interview with Dubai TV, Syria’s top military defector said Assad’s regime is “over” and advised the president to leave office and let the country’s people decide their own fate.


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