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International brief ~ Nigerian mediators turned away from Togo
International brief ~ Nigerian mediators turned away from Togo

[JURIST] In Friday's international brief, Nigerian President and current African Union Chairman Olusegun Obasanjo [official profile] expressed outrage Friday after a plane carrying a Nigerian advance party was diverted from the Togo capital city of Lome and denied permission to land. The Nigerian group was on its way to Lome to meet with Faure Gnassingbe [BBC profile], current President of Togo [government website in French], to discuss the method used to install him in office. African and European governments have been critical of the constitutional changes that permitted Faure to maintain the power given him by the nation's military following his father's death. South African President Thabo Mbeki weighed in on the crisis for the first time, calling Faure's attempt at legitimate government "a charade". Obasanjo has withdrawn the Nigerian Ambassador to Togo, and is considering whether to accept a Togo offer to hold the talks in Faure's hometown of Kara. Many analysts view this as an attempt at power manipulation, since Faure's father's body is laid out for viewing in Kara and leaders would likely be hesitant to criticize how Faure rose to power after paying their respects to his father. JURIST has continuing coverage [JURIST Countries archive] of Togo. BBC News has more.

In other international legal news …

  • UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan Friday announced a "zero tolerance" policy on sexual relations between UN peacekeeping forces in the Congo and the native population. The new polcy was sparked by over 150 complaints of sexual abuse by peacekeepers of the UN Mission to the Congo [official website]. In an interview with the UK-based Independent, Annan said the measures only applied to the Congo mission, but that he was speaking to the 17 other UN missions around the world as well. Read the Independent report.
  • In the face of new calls for sanctions on North Korea, Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi [official profile] has urged caution and calm, saying that Japan did not want to antagonize North Korea when any possibility remained that they may return to the negotiating table. Japanese sentiment has already been running high against North Korea in relation to the admitted kidnapping of Japanese citizens for intelligence purposes and the failure to come clean about the possible remaining victims [JURIST report]. This distrust was exacerbated Thursday, when North Korea announced that it is withdrawing from the proposed six-party talks designed to address North Korea's nuclear capabilities and to propose methods to bring it in line with international regulatory standards. North Korea rejected the talks after claiming that a 'hostile US attitude' made the attempt at negotiation pointless. The statement was the first time North Korea officially admitted to having nuclear weapons. Read the North Korean official press release. Yomiuri has local coverage.
  • At least ten human rights activists were arrested Thursday in Nepal when they protested the imposition of ant-democratic restrictions [JURIST report] put in place by King Gyanendra [BBC profile}. The activists were organized by the Nepalese activist group Human Rights and Peace Society [advocacy website] and those arrested inlcuded HURPES' vice-president and treasurer. The arrests came one day after the government released seven political leaders, including two former prime ministers, that had been put under house arrest following Gyanendra's takeover. The Nepalese Supreme Court asked the government to produce the seven individuals after a writ of habeas corpus was filed requesting their release. Kantipur Online has local coverage.