BY Wire reports
Saturday, February 02, 2013
2/02/13 at 2:55 AM
Paris : French president to announce plans on Mali
President Francois Hollande says he'll suggest when France will reduce troop levels in Mali during a trip there Saturday, nearly four weeks after a French-led operation against Islamic extremists began in the vast West African nation.
Hollande, who will be accompanied by France's foreign and defense ministers, hopes to also boost his troops' morale while pushing for political dialogue in Mali to move the country forward.
France has 3,500 troops in Mali, where they are working with Malian soldiers and preparing the way for an African military contingent to help stabilize the vast country. The French-led intervention so far has rapidly forced the retreat of militants out of urban centers in Mali's north, which had been under the extremists' control.
Canberra, Australia : Australia ministers quit as election date set
Two senior Australian government ministers have announced they will quit politics just days after beleaguered Prime Minister Julia Gillard said elections will be held Sept. 14.
Government leader in the Senate, Chris Evans, the third most senior government minister, and Attorney General Nicola Roxon announced Saturday they are resigning from the Cabinet.
Evans, the minister for tertiary education, skills, science and research, said he will quit the Senate within months. Roxon will leave Parliament at the next election.
The resignations mean Gillard will make a major reshuffle of her cabinet before her center-left Labor Party government faces likely defeat at elections.
Gillard surprised Australians on Wednesday by announcing the election date. Governments traditionally give the opposition little more than a month's notice.
New Delhi : India's Cabinet OKs tougher rape penalties
India's Cabinet accepted most of the recommendations of a commission for toughening laws for crimes against women, including increasing the penalty for rape.
The panel was set up in response to the fatal gang rape in December of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi. The Cabinet recommended Friday that the president issue an ordinance to turn the proposals into law, Law Minister Ashwini Kumar said. The commission recommended an increase in the penalty for rape to 20 years and suggested life terms for gang rape.
Kumar did not give details. However, the Press Trust of India news agency said the Cabinet went beyond the panel's recommendations by providing for death sentences in cases where a rape leads to death of the victim or leaves her in a "persistent vegetative state."
The Cabinet also recommended including crimes like stalking, cyber stalking and voyeurism and imposing stiff punishments for such crimes.
Maiduguri, Nigeria : Soldiers attack suspected militant training camps
Nigerian soldiers attacked training camps for suspected members of the radical Islamic sect Boko Haram deep in a game reserve in the nation's restive northeast, a raid that left at least 18 people dead, a military spokesman said Friday.
The raid lasted two days in the Sambisa Game Reserve in Borno state, a rural region of the Sahel, Lt. Col. Sagir Musa said. Soldiers backed up by attack helicopters assaulted the camps over Wednesday and Thursday, later finding assault rifles, explosives and other material, Musa said.
Musa said the camps were "fortified and had training facilities (and an) armory."
Boko Haram has been waging an increasingly bloody guerrilla fight against Nigeria's weak central government.
Moscow : Judge fired after caught sleeping during trial
A Russian judge has been fired after he caught 40 winks in court and then sentenced an outraged defendant to five years in prison.
Judge Yevgeny Makhno of Blagoveshchensk City Court in Russia's Far East was forced to resign Friday for obviously falling asleep several times while trying a businessman on charges of fraud.
The case became a national scandal after the defendant's lawyer posted several videos online of Makhno asleep in court. The videos were then shown on state television.
Makhno claimed that he was not sleeping, but listening with his eyes closed, the reports said.
Procession participants shield themselves from the sun Friday with portraits of the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in a funeral procession in Phnom Penh. Thousands of mourners accompanied the gilded chariot carrying the body of the king in the procession. WONG MAYE-E/Associated Press