International Briefs

Sudan peace deal

DOHA: The Sudanese government is to sign a deal with a small Darfur rebel group, the Liberation and Justice Movement (LJM), this week as talks with the larger Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) falter, a minister said. “The accord will be signed on Thursday in the presence of Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha, who is expected to arrive in Doha on Wednesday,” Culture Minister Amin Hassan Omar told reporters in the Qatari capital on Tuesday.

Madagascar sanctions

ADDIS ABABA: The African Union is to impose sanctions on Madagascar’s de facto authorities on Wednesday for defying the bloc’s call to implement accords to end a year-long political crisis. The 53-member bloc on February 16 issued a one-month ultimatum to the Indian Ocean island’s leadership, headed by strongman Andry Rajoelina, to comply with agreements reached in a series of negotiations with rivals last year. The sanctions will be announced after a meeting of the AU Peace and Security Council meeting on Wednesday.

Jakarta terror trial

JAKARTA: Indonesian prosecutors sought 10 years’ jail on Wednesday for a man accused of sheltering late terror mastermind Noordin Mohammad Top. Syaifudin Zuhri, 39, is on trial for his alleged involvement in hiding and abetting Noordin as he planned twin suicide attacks on luxury hotels in Jakarta last year which killed seven people. “We seek 10 years’ prison for Syaifudin Zuhri. He has been proven legally and convincingly guilty of hiding and assisting terrorist Noordin M Top,” prosecutor Totok Bambang told the South Jakarta district court.

Int’l relief for Fiji

SUVA: The first batch of international relief supplies arrived in cyclone-ravaged Fiji on Wednesday as military leader Voreqe Bainimarama spoke of “overwhelming” damage to the Pacific island nation. Category-four Cyclone Tomas — the second strongest on a five-point scale — devastated areas in the north and east of Fiji but has weakened and is moving away from the south, allowing officials to assess damage. Fiji-based Pacific deputy representative for UNICEF Tim Sutton said about 150,000 Fijians had potentially been directly affected by the powerful cyclone, with Bainimarama describing the damage late on Tuesday as “overwhelming.”

Vietnam bird flu death

HANOI: A three-year-old girl on Wednesday became the second person to die of bird flu this year in Vietnam, a doctor said. The child succumbed after about a week in a Ho Chi Minh City pediatric hospital with a severe lung infection, said Phan Van Nghiem, of the city’s health department. The girl, from southern Binh Duong province, was Vietnam’s 59th human fatality from bird flu, also known as H5N1.