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Africa’s middle class: striving to develop a continent

The middle class is widely acknowledged to be Africa's future. But it is difficult to define exactly who is in the key group.

Soweto principal transforms school

SOWETO, South Africa — When Mduduzi Maphindikazi Mathe took charge of Bhukulani Secondary School in Soweto, the sprawling township south of Johannesburg, the dilapidated school was on the verge of being shut down. The buildings had no window panes or doors, and the classrooms were sparsely equipped with broken chalkboards and too few desks. “It was terrible,” said Mathe. “This school was a mess.”

International prosecutor in Kenya to press charges

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s shaky democracy is facing a defining struggle as the chief prosecutor of the International Criminal Court begins an investigation into political violence that is expected to lead him straight to Kenya’s wealthy and educated ruling elites. Argentine prosecutor Luis Moreno-Ocampo arrived here last weekend for a five-day visit carrying with him the hopes of Kenyans desperate to see justice for the deaths of more than 1,100 people in violence that followed the last elections in 2007.

Is Uganda's anti-homosexuality bill dead?

KAMPALA, Uganda — The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, which calls for the death penalty in some cases, suffered a serious setback when a government committee advised that it be withdrawn from parliament. The fate of the controversial legislation hangs in the balance with powerful forces both for and against the bill. The legislation provoked an international uproar when it was proposed to parliament in October 2009. In addition to executions, it threatens long jail terms to anyone, including family members, who does not report homosexuals to the police.

Zimbabwe courts acquit Roy Bennett

Roy Bennett, the white politician who is Robert Mugabe's bete noire, was acquitted today of terrorism charges for which he faced the death penalty. Judge Chinembiri Bhunu ruled that the state failed to prove its case and found Bennett not guilty of all charges: banditry, sabotage, terrorism and insurgency. "Justice has been done," said his lawyer Beatrice Mtetwa, who proved that evidence against Bennett was extracted by torture and false.

Opinion: What motivates a terrorist?

BOSTON — The American reaction to Faisal Shahzad’s failed attempt at a car bombing in Times Square was: Pakistan again? Why do so many of terrorism’s hydra-heads originate in Pakistan? Pakistan answered that Shahzad had, after all, spent decades in America and had become an American citizen. So was he radicalized solely in Waziristan’s training camps? Or were the seeds of his radicalization planted here in the United States?

Opinion: Obama right to press Kenya to reform

BUNGOMA, Kenya — Not much has changed politically in Kenya since the violent clashes that erupted after the December 2007 presidential election and the power-sharing agreement that ended them in February 2008. Most of the reforms the power-sharing government agreed to implement have yet to materialize. The two factions appear more interested in fighting over who should run things than in getting things done.

Uganda hails new King Oyo

As Russia releases Somalis, other "pirates" languish in jail

MOSCOW, Russia — When the Moscow University, an oil tanker owned by the Russian government, sent out a distress signal from the Gulf of Aden early Wednesday, a rescue plan emerged like clockwork.  The ship’s crew cut the power and hid in a saferoom as Somali pirates boarded the vessel, loaded with $52 million worth of oil destined for China. A nearby Russian warship, the Marshall Shaposhnikov, changed course and headed for the distressed tanker.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua dies

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua, 58, died Wednesday after a lengthy period of ill-health which left Africa's most populous country without effective leadership for more than five months. Vice President Goodluck Jonathan announced that Nigeria will have seven days of mourning. Jonathan is expected to be sworn in immediately as Nigeria's leader and commander in chief. Jonathan as president will tip the balance in Nigeria's factionalized politics because he is a Christian from southern Nigeria. Yar'Adua was a Muslim from the north.
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