Egyptian general calls for mandate to confront violent protests

July 24, 2013

Egypt’s military calls for mass demonstrations on Friday, Indian police arrest headmistress of school that served poisoned lunches, and a Reuters special report details a major U.S. drug sting in West Africa. Today is Wednesday, July 24, and this is the World Wrap, brought to you by @dwbronner.

Opponents of deposed President Mohamed Mursi stand among police officers after a report of a possible pro-Mursi rally, near Tahrir square, in Cairo, July 23, 2013. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Military demands mandate. Egypt’s military chief, General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, called for a rally on Friday to grant him a mandate for confronting recent violence, adding that the military won’t step back from its plan to hold elections in six months to replace Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Mursi:

“I request that all Egyptians next Friday … go down (into the street) to give me a mandate and an order to confront possible violence and terrorism,” he told a military graduation ceremony in remarks broadcast live by state media. Sisi also urged national reconciliation after months of upheaval. A senior member of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement, Essam El-Erian, said Sisi’s appeal represented a threat, adding that it would not halt Islamist protests urging the immediate restoration of the president. “Your threat will not prevent millions from continuing to gather,” Erian wrote on Facebook.

The military’s statement increases pressure on the Muslim Brotherhood, which continues to demand that Mursi be reinstated. Nine people were killed in clashes between Mursi supporters and his opponents in Cairo on Tuesday, and at least two more were killed in Cairo overnight. More than 100 people, mostly Mursi supporters, have been killed this month. On Monday, Mursi’s family said they would sue the army for holding the deposed leader without charge. The army has not revealed where Mursi is being held.

A relative mourns the death of her niece, who died after consuming contaminated meals given to children at a school on Tuesday at Chapra district in the eastern Indian state of Bihar, July 18, 2013. REUTERS/Adnan Abidi 

Poison probe continues. Indian police arrested the headmistress of a school where 23 children died after eating a pesticide-laced lunch. The meal had been provided by the school as part of a state-wide program to fight malnutrition. The woman had been missing for more than a week and was detained by officers as she was on her way to surrender in court:

The children fell ill within minutes of eating a meal of rice and soybean-potato curry in their one-room school on July 16, vomiting and convulsing with stomach cramps. Many died, some on the floor of a hospital where they went for treatment, within hours of consuming the food. Forensic tests showed the meal was contaminated with monocrotophos, a lethal pesticide banned in many countries. Police have said the headmistress is key to solving the mystery of how the pesticide ended up in the food. Police have been searching for the woman since she fled the district where the school is located. Kumar said she had been hiding in the district.

Authorities suspect that the cooking oil used to prepare meals was stored in a used pesticide container. The deaths mark the worst case of food poisoning in India this year, but the country’s school lunch program has long been plagued by lack of oversight and poor hygienic conditions.

Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto, a former navy chief of Guinea-Bissau, is seen at a ceremony honoring army parachutists in Bissau, July 20, 2010. Picture taken July 20, 2010. REUTERS/Fulgencio Mendes Borge

West African sting. On April 2, the U.S. arrested former Guinea-Bissau naval chief Jose Americo Bubo Na Tchuto on a luxury yacht off the coast of Guinea-Bissau as part of a sting operation targeting Tchuto for allegedly conspiring to traffic cocaine. The mission, however, was only semi-successful. The DEA failed to seize its largest target, General Antonio Indjai, for allegedly supporting the Colombia rebel group FARC and conspiring to smuggle drugs and complicated relations with the West African state. A Reuters report details the operation, and outlines its shortcomings:

Angry officials in Guinea-Bissau say Na Tchuto is the victim of entrapment and was illegally seized in Bissau’s sovereign waters. Government spokesman Fernando Vaz called the sting a “kidnapping” and said if there is evidence of military officials involved in drugs smuggling, they should be tried domestically. The DEA says Na Tchuto and his two aides were captured in international waters; it declined to provide further details while the court case is pending. It remains firm in its view that certain elements in Guinea-Bissau pose a danger that needs to be countered. “Guinea-Bissau is a narco-state,” said DEA spokesman Lawrence R. Payne in an email to Reuters. “These drug trafficking organizations are a threat to the security, stability and good governance in West Africa and pose a direct threat not only to the security of West Africans, but also of U.S. citizens.”

Click through to read more on how the U.S. targeted West African military chiefs.

Nota Bene: Snowden to stay in Russian airport, for now.


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