Briefs, September 19, 2012

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 September, 2012, 4:27am

Two-horse race to succeed Sarkozy

PARIS - The battle to succeed former president Nicolas Sarkozy at the head of France's main centre-right party has come down to a two-horse race. Francois Fillon, Sarkozy's prime minister throughout his five-year term, and Jean-Francois Cope, the acting leader of the UMP, were the only two candidates left after former minister Bruno Le Maire announced he would not stand. Sarkozy stepped down as leader of the UMP party after losing to Socialist rival Francois Hollande in the presidential election in May and nominations to succeed him were due yesterday. AFP


Ebola fever victim dies after giving birth

KINSHASA - An outbreak of Ebola fever in the Democratic Republic of Congo may have claimed up to 32 lives since May, including that of a woman who had just given birth, the World Health Organisation said. A baby born prematurely "in the isolation centre in Isiro [the northeastern epicentre of the epidemic] to a mother infected by the Ebola virus was still alive while his mother died on Saturday," a statement said. In DR Congo, which has known eight outbreaks of the often-fatal haemorraghic fever, it was the first time a pregnant woman had a child, because "Ebola and pregnancy are almost incompatible," Health Minister Felix Kabange Numbi said. AFP


UN agency presses Iran on bomb research fear

VIENNA - The UN nuclear agency pressed Iran to address concerns about suspected bomb research, saying it was ready for talks soon and avoiding any mention of Tehran's allegation that "terrorists" may have infiltrated the Vienna-based watchdog. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) issued a statement on a meeting between IAEA director general Yukiya Amano and Iranian nuclear energy head Fereydoun Abbasi-Davani, which was held just hours after Abbasi-Davani sharply criticised the UN body in a speech to its annual assembly. Amano said it was essential for Iran to co-operate with his inspectors to clarify suspicions about possible military dimensions to its nuclear programme. Reuters


Miners to end strike after accepting pay rise

MARIKANA - Striking miners at Lonmin's Marikana mine in South Africa said they accepted a management pay rise offer and would return to work tomorrow after six weeks of mining sector unrest. The gathered strikers cheered near the mine, 100 kilometres northwest of Johannesburg, when they were informed of the 22 per cent wage increase offer. In another sign that weeks of labour unrest could be ending, world No. 1 platinum producer Anglo American Platinum said it had resumed its operations. Reuters


Refugees pelt Brahimi entourage with stones

AMMAN - Syrian refugees in Jordan protested against a visit to their desert camp by UN envoy Lakhdar Brahimi yesterday, some pelting his entourage's vehicles with stones in a reflection of frustration at his mission's seeming inability to end their country's civil war. Brahimi, who visited another camp in Turkey the same day, has called his task "nearly impossible". But some at the Zaatari camp in the Jordanian desert - with some 31,000 residents - shouted slogans implying that his initiative, which involves meetings with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, only legitimises the embattled Damascus regime. Jordan hosts a total of more than 200,000 displaced Syrians - the largest number in the region. AP


Captain America wins presidential election

PHILADELPHIA - Captain America has a new job with perks, a spacious office and a title that others spend millions of dollars to get: Mr President. One of Marvel Entertainment's best-known heroes since he socked Adolf Hitler in the jaw in 1941, the sentinel of liberty will trade his New York City apartment for the White House in the pages of Marvel Comics' The Ultimates. A career soldier for whom duty trumps political parties, Steve Rogers is seen as the last hope for the country and wins election in issue No 15, due out today, said Sam Humphries, who is writing the storyline. AP


South Asians 'need degree for tourist visa'

DUBAI - Tourists from South Asian countries that export labour to the United Arab Emirates will require a university degree to get a visa as the Gulf state fights an illegal influx, the Gulf News newspaper reported. Electricians, pipe fitters, masons, farmers, drivers, tailors and cleaners from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines are now banned from obtaining a tourist visa, the daily said, citing a senior immigration official. The new measure sets a university degree as a prerequisite to obtain a visa, the official said. AFP