Angola + 2 more

Southern Africa: IRIN News Briefs, 21 December

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ANGOLA: Latest IDP figures
The UN Humanitarian Coordination Unit (UCAH) in Angola on Tuesday reported that the number of people internally displaced by fighting between government forces and UNITA rebels had now reached over one million people.

It said that up to 15 December, the number of confirmed internally displaced persons (IDPs) had reached 1,053,336 since January last year. The number of IDPs reported, however, was much higher at 1,732,284. UCAH put the number of people receiving food aid in Angola at 753,302, while those receiving aid other than food was given at 538,163 - indicating that the humanitarian community cannot reach the whole displaced population, mainly because of security constraints.

COMORO ISLANDS: OAU talks open in South Africa

Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Secretary-General Salim Ahmed Salim arrived in South Africa on Tuesday for talks on the future of the troubled Comoro Islands, officials said.

The talks hosted by South African Foreign Minister Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, are being attended by the foreign ministers of Burkina Faso, Algeria and Togo, a troika of past, present and future OAU presidencies mandated to seek a diplomatic solution to the crisis in the Indian Ocean archipelago.

The OAU refuses to recognise the current military junta in the Comoros, headed by Colonel Azali Assoumani, which seized power in April. The talks will also deal with a breakaway led by Anjouan which declared unilateral independence from the government in 1997.

ZIMBABWE: Mugabe declines to discuss resignation

President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, this week declined to say when he would step down or suggest a potential successor to take up the helm of his ruling ZANU-PF party.

In an interview published on Tuesday with the South African daily, 'The Star', Mugabe was asked what would happen once his current term as president of the country ends in the year 2002: "Ask me nearer the time, and I will tell you. I also have to protect my party from internal fights that could start if I were to say I will not stand in 2002," he said.

New food price controls

Mugabe also said in the interview his government planned to reintroduce price controls on essential foods.

He said prices of the staple, corn meal, as well as bread and beef will be fixed by state-imposed regulations, but declined to say when this would be done. "We definitely want to restore controls. We have already started by preventing corn millers from raising their prices without government permission," Mugabe said. Price fixing was abandoned when Mugabe's government adopted market-led economic reforms in 1992, ending a decade of socialist economic policies. The move, analysts said, was likely to further displease major donors, and lending agencies like the International Monetary Fund which have backed market-linked reforms. The IMF and the World Bank earlier this year put further funding on hold over Zimbabwe's failure to meet economic reform targets.

[ENDS]

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