The American ambassador to the United Nations, Richard Holbrooke, has told South African President Thabo Mbeki and Namibian President Sam Nujoma that the crisis in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the most serious threat facing the region, news reports said on Monday.
Holbrooke arrived in South Africa on Saturday after meeting Nujoma in Windhoek. Holbrooke also privately met former president Nelson Mandela. The reports quoted Holbrooke as saying he wants a new DRC peace mediator chosen as soon as possible to revitalize the truce signed in Lusaka in August by the government of President Laurent-Desire Kabila, his military backers Namibia, Angola and Zimbabwe and rebel groups supported by Uganda and Rwanda.
Holbrooke, who also visited Mali and Angola, was to travel to Zimbabwe later on Monday and then visit Zambia, Rwanda, Uganda, DRC and Tunisia. At a speech in Pretoria, he said renewed fighting in Congo "threatens to leave this important agreement in tatters." He added: "If the parties in Congo truly want the international community's involvement and support, such violations of commitments are simply unacceptable."
SOUTH AFRICA-ETHIOPIA: Mengistu extradition request
South Africa said on Monday it was reviewing a request from Ethiopia to extradite exiled former dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam to Addis Ababa to face trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity, news reports said.
Mengistu, currently undergoing medical treatment in South Africa, has lived in Zimbabwe since 1991 when he fled Ethiopia. He arrived in South Africa on a Zimbabwean diplomatic passport, and officials said they were considering a formal extradition request filed on Friday. Last week, a presidential spokesman in South Africa ruled out the possibility of deporting Mengistu, saying there was no extradition treaty between South Africa and Ethiopia. Zimbabwe has given similar reasons in the past for allowing Mengistu to remain.
ZAMBIA: Inflation rate rises
The monthly rate of inflation in Zambia rose from 1.4 percent in October to 1.7 percent in November, with indications the trend may continue into the New Year, the PANA news agency reported.
The year-on-year inflation rate for November stood at 25.3 percent, largely attributed to food price increases. At the beginning of the year, the government had promised to peg annual inflation to about 15 percent.
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