AFRICA UPDATE

South Africa continues peace efforts in Angola

South African Foreign Minister Roelof (Pik) Botha is spearheading a mission to ensure that Angola's first democratic ballot election has a peaceful outcome and that rival leaders in the presidential ballot settle their differences through negotiation, reports Monitor correspondent John Battersby in Johannesburg.

"We fully support Botha's mission and expect that President Jose Eduardo dos Santos and rebel leader Jonas Savimbi will meet in the next few days to discuss the road ahead," says a Western diplomat close to the Botha initiative. "We are relieved that South Africa is ... making a positive contribution to resolving a tense situation."

Mr. Botha, who has met both Mr. Savimbi and Mr. dos Santos this week, flew to the Angolan capital of Luanda on Monday following an outbreak of violence between forces loyal to the two rival leaders in the capital last weekend.

Tensions in Angola have been running high since Savimbi withdrew his forces from the new united Angolan Army last week and claimed that the ballot was fraudulent.

Botha said Wednesday that the key to a solution was that the official result should be announced only after Savimbi's claims of electoral fraud have been fully probed.

Unofficial results show that Dos Santos barely attained the 50 percent of votes he needed to prevent a runoff in the presidential ballot. The ruling Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola gained a clear victory in legislative elections.

Electoral officials have delayed announcing the final result for fear of a renewed outbreak of the 17-year-old civil war that was suspended under a peace accord signed in May of last year.

"If Dos Santos has failed to attain the 50 percent he needs they will have to discuss the holding of a second ballot that would require a massively increased United Nations presence," the diplomat says.

"If he has won 50 percent they need to discuss the terms of a government of national unity." East Africans try to renew economic cooperation

Fifteen years after the collapse of the East African Community, technical experts from Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya begin talks today to work out details for the revival of regional cooperation.

Officials say a protocol on cooperation will be presented at a two-day meeting of foreign ministers in Arusha, Tanzania, on Saturday. Presidents Daniel arap Moi of Kenya, Yoweri Museveni of Uganda, and Ali Hassan Mwinyi of Tanzania meet Monday.

The meetings will map out areas for cooperation in trade, industry, health, agriculture, finance, transport, research, and communications, officials say.

East African diplomats say the three countries have weeded out errors that led to the collapse of the community in 1977, when impoverished Tanzania and Uganda complained that wealthier Kenya was reaping more benefits from the community.

Efforts at renewed cooperation follow the collapse of socialism in Tanzania, and stability in resource-rich Uganda. Malawi court rules in key dissident case

Malawi's High Court has quashed two of five sedition charges against opposition activist Chakufwa Chihana. The remaining three charges will be decided on Nov. 2.

The case is considered a barometer of democracy in the southern African country and is being watched by international donors who have suspended aid pending political reforms.

Mr. Chihana, a trade unionist and democratic activist in one-party Malawi, was arrested on his return home in April from a Malawi opposition conference in Zambia. He was charged with importing seditious publications, possession of seditious material, preparing to commit a seditious act, conduct with seditious intent, and conduct likely to be prejudicial to public security.

The court dropped the second and third counts. Defense lawyers had called for the dismissal of all the charges, arguing Malawi's laws required that a trial against Chihana should have started within six months of his arrest.

International human rights groups have criticized President H. Kamuzu Banda for Chihana's arrest, saying it was politically motivated. The court action comes at a time when the Paris Club is due to meet to review progress in countries like Kenya and Malawi where it has made aid conditional on democratic reform.

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