AFRICA UPDATE

Refugee famine threatIn Kebribeyah, Ethiopia, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Sadoko Ogata, has appealed for international aid to prevent thousands of Ethiopian refugees from starving to death in camps in the barren Ogaden region. Aid workers say about 50 people are dying each day in Kebribeyah alone, shelter to 30,000 Ethiopians who have returned to their homeland from neighboring Somalia since January. Rita Bathia, a UNHCR nutritionist, said health care for young children was out of control, with nearly half of those under five expected to die of hunger. Many have already died. Cecil Kpenou, UNHCR representative in Ethiopia said the UNHCR and United Nations World Food Program had appealed for $15 million to help the refugees. "But so far none has been received and their situation is deteriorating daily," he said.

Former rebel elected president in Ethiopia In Addis Ababa, Ethiopia's national assembly has unanimously elected the country's interim president, former guerrilla chief Meles Zenawi, as head of state and government, state media reported. Mr. Meles, who led the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front to victory against former president Mengistu Haile Mariam in May, was also elected head of state, state television said. Meles, in an acceptance speech, pledged to fulfill a national charter, adopted in early July at a conference of 24 political and ethnic groups, which would be a democratic blueprint for the country after 14 years of Marxist rule. The charter guarantees basic human rights, freedom of association and expression, and a large measure of autonomy for different ethnic groups.

Madagascar's opposition obeys curfew Madagascar's resurgent opposition backed away from a confrontation with President Didier Ratsiraka Tuesday, obeying a curfew ordered as part of a crackdown after weeks of peaceful protests. The streets of Antananarivo, the Indian Ocean island's capital, stayed calm at night after violent clashes outside the state radio station, residents said. They said several protesters were hurt before opposition leaders ordered their supporters to withdraw. Political analysts said opposition leaders apparently abandoned plans for a night celebration in a central city square to avoid provoking security forces. They said the way still appeared open for talks between the government and opposition leaders, despite Tuesday's declaration of a state of emergency.

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