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Briefs, March 11, 2013

PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 March, 2013, 6:10am

Kenya's president-elect urged to heal divisions

NAIROBI - Kenya's press called for reconciliation between the winners and losers in the country's presidential election, as calm prevailed a day after the results were declared, in striking contrast to the aftermath of the 2007 polls. "The country is split right down the middle on tribal and economic lines," The Standard said in an editorial, calling on president-elect Uhuru Kenyatta to mend the divisions. The Sunday Nation said the conciliatory tone adopted by Kenyatta and deputy William Ruto was "certainly a good start towards confronting the deep ethnic divisions". Kenyatta, who faces trial on charges of crimes against humanity over the 2007-08 violence, scraped a first-round win over his main rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga. AFP

 

Pistorius on the verge of suicide, friend says

LONDON - Oscar Pistorius is a broken man "on the verge of suicide" as he fights a charge of premeditated murder, a friend of the Paralympic star said. Pistorius stands accused of murdering his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp on Valentine's Day in a case that has rocked the nation. The 26-year-old South African, who has won six gold medals at the Paralympics, claims he shot her through a bathroom door thinking she was an intruder. Close friend Mike Azzie said the star's state of mind has worsened since he was tasked with selling his racehorses to raise money to pay for his spiralling legal fees. AFP

 

Number fleeing Syria may hit 3m, UN warns

ANKARA - UN High Commissioner for Refugees Antonio Guterres said there could be two or three times the one million registered Syrian refugees outside the country by the end of the year if the rise in their numbers continues at its current rate. The one millionth Syrian refugee was registered in Jordan on Wednesday following an acceleration in the number of civilians fleeing fighting in their homeland during the first two months of the year. The UN refugee agency says more than 400,000 Syrian refugees have fled their homeland since January 1. In December, there were 3,000 refugees on average a day. In January, the daily figure rose to 5,000, and by February it was 8,000. Reuters

 

Tens of thousands join protests across Spain

MADRID - Tens of thousands marched in dozens of Spanish cities to protest against sky-high unemployment, what they say is the government's inefficient handling of the economy, and corruption scandals. Many carried placards critical of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's ruling Popular Party, which is immersed in a corruption investigation centred on former treasurer Luis Barcenas and alleged under-the-table payments to party officials while in opposition. Rallies were held in Madrid and 60 other cities. AP

 

Mandela returns home after hospital tests

JOHANNESBURG - Nelson Mandela left a hospital after "successful" medical tests and returned to his home in Johannesburg, the spokesman for South Africa's president said. The former president and anti-apartheid leader was admitted to a Pretoria hospital on Saturday. A presidential spokesman said he was "well and … his health remains under the management of the medical team". Mandela has become increasingly frail in recent years and was in hospital for nearly three weeks in December. AP

 

British judge orders Qatada back to prison

LONDON - Jordanian terror suspect Abu Qatada was sent back to prison by a British judge, two days before the government was due to make a fresh attempt to deport him. The radical cleric, dubbed Osama bin Laden's right-hand man in Europe, was found to have breached the conditions of his bail granted in November. The judge said there was "strong prima facie evidence" that Abu Qatada had breached a bail condition that banned him from having cellphones switched on in his house while he was there. AFP

 

Fire in German block of flats kills six children

BERLIN - An early-morning fire at an apartment building in southwestern Germany left seven people dead, six of them children, police said. Authorities were alerted to the blaze in Backnang, a town near Stuttgart, at 4.30am. Police said they believed that the fire broke out in a second-floor apartment and their investigation was focusing on a heater in the apartment. AP

 

Cairo minister defends beleaguered policing

CAIRO - Egypt's interior minister declared he would not allow vigilantes or militias to take over police duties, while admitting his police force has been strained by daily protests, clashes and criticism. Minister Mohammed Ibrahim was speaking a day after protesters rampaged through Cairo, furious over the acquittal of seven of nine police officers in a trial over soccer violence that left 74 people dead last year. The unrest coincides with an unprecedented wave of strikes by police over demands for better working conditions. AP

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