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from Global News Journal:

Can Cyprus “comrades” clinch a deal?

The leaders of Cyprus's Greek and Turkish communities sipped coffee and called each other "comrade" as they launched a new round of talks on reuniting the island, whose 34-year division has exasperated the most committed of mediators.     
 Cypriot President Christofias shakes hands with Turkish Cypriot President Ali Talat during a news conference after their meeting in Nicosia                            
This time, foreign diplomats and analysts say, a solution is in sight, thanks largely to the two moderate, leftist men heading the negotiations - Greek Cypriot Demetris Christofias and Turkish Cypriot Mehmet Ali Talat.

Although it has been years since any violence has erupted on the island, the simmering feud has far-reaching effects onTurkey's EU aspirations, its relations with fellow NATO member Greece and politics in the eastern Mediterranean.

Fed up with former president Tassos Papadopoulos, who tearfully asked Greek Cypriots to vote down a U.N. re-unification plan in 2004, voters elected Christofias this year and turned the tide on an issue that has long baffled the international community.

Or have they? Local analysts warn against excessive euphoria, saying that the obvious positive climate between the two leaders needs to trickle down to the ground for a deal to be made. Both communities must approve any solution in simultaneous referendums.   

from Global News Journal:

How much damage will Mauritania’s coup do to Africa?

a-man-walks-in-front-of-mosque-in-central-nouakchott-february-2-2008.jpgSoldiers took power in a coup in Mauritania on Wednesday after presidential guards deposed President Sidi Mohamed Ould Cheikh Abdallahi when he tried to dismiss senior army officers. Abdallahi took over only last year after winning elections to replace a military junta that had ruled since it toppled the previous president in a bloodless coup in 2005. The largely desert nation, one of Africa's newest oil producers, has suffered five coups since 1978 but Africa as a whole has transformed its reputation for violent government ousters in recent years after notching up around 80 successful coups and many more abortive attempts between the 1950s and 2004.

There have only been a handful of military seizures in the last five years compared to the heyday of military takeovers in the 1960s. In the mid-70s around half of African countries had military governments. Since then, democracy has gradually made ground and attempts to seize power are strongly frowned upon.

from Africa News blog:

How much longer for Museveni?

rtr1zhcn.jpgCovering Uganda's President Yoweri Museveni for four years as the Reuters correspondent in Kampala was seldom dull.

When he was in a good mood, the former rebel would banter with journalists long after his aides wanted him to leave. In a bad mood, he would scowl and growl back answers in return.

from Global News Journal:

Update-Is ICC setting its sights too high in Sudan?

bashir1.jpgOn Friday I wrote that the International Criminal Court's chief prosecutor was readying a genocide charge and arrest warrant for Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir.  It came to pass today. A defiant Khartoum has said it will not bend to the court and has warned of an eruption of violence; the opposition too has said the warrant could threaten peace. Is this a case of justice versus peace and do the two have to be irreconcilable?

Here's Friday's blog:

BashirProsecutors at the International Criminal Court are readying arrest warrants for senior Sudanese officials, possibly even President Omar Hassan al-Bashir, sources at The Hague court have told Reuters. The Washington Post said it understood Bashir would face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

from Photographers' Blog:

They came… we saw… she conquered…

The State visit to Britain by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni drew widespread attention not the least from the massed ranks of photographers and televison crews keen to record the couple's every step.  No cliche was left unturned as members of the press vied with one another to describe their partnership.

But... a state visit by a French President would always draw interest, and with the added glamour angle you had a winning formulae.  The drab world of formal visits was to be given a makeover - I for one hoped so. In my view, the visit was not so much a breath of fresh air blowing away the cobwebs, but a mix of contrasting elements standing together. With this visit we hoped to  see contrasts of age, style and appearance. In addition the sense of anticipation was heightened because the people involved represented the historic differences between the English and the French. Would they come together in a new entente cordiale? Would the charge be led by the French President? Not on your life, it was led by his wife, the amabassador extraordinaire.

from Fan Fare:

Elton sings for Hillary — “I’m still standing”

elton.jpgAmerican TV superstar Oprah Winfrey might be backing Democratic presidential hopeful Barak Obama, but his rival Hillary Clinton got her own celebrity boost on Monday when Elton John announced he would perform a solo concert on behalf of her campaign on April 9 at Radio City Music Hall in New York.  The event, called "Elton and Hillary: One Night Only," is the British star's first public solo concert in New York City withouhillary.jpgt his band in eight years. Ticket prices start at $125.

"I'm not a politician but I believe in the work that Hillary Clinton does," said John.  "I'm excited to support Hillary by performing at what will be a truly memorable night."

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