Ottawa Citizen

Niger to expel 150,000 Arab refugees

Camels blamed for taxing water supply ISRAEL Officials investigat­e PM on bribe allegation­s BOLIVIA Venezuela drops out of race for UN seat UNITED STATES Judge sides with boy against circumcisi­on

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NIAMEY, Niger • The government of Niger yesterday ordered the expulsion of 150,000 Arab refugees from Chad and neighbouri­ng countries who have lived in the West African nation for decades.

Interior Minister Mounkaila Modi told The Associated Press that the drastic decision was made because many of the refugees are livestock herders whose camels are destroying arid Niger’s fragile ecosystem, particular­ly water sources in short supply.

Many of the Arabs are nomads known as “ Mohamides” who fled conflicts in Chad decades before.

“ We have decided, starting today, to expel these nomadic Arab Mohamides to their home countries,” Mr. Modi said. “ These foreigners have shown no respect to the rights of the natives, and they’re putting pressure on pastures in this re- Israeli authoritie­s are looking into whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert accepted bribes during a major bank privatizat­ion deal last year. The attorney general has asked prosecutor­s to investigat­e the matter, after receiving informatio­n from the state comptrolle­r, a government watchdog agency, justice ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said yesterday. There was no comment from Mr. Olmert’s office. Venezuela has agreed to drop out of the hotly contested race for Latin America’s open seat on the UN Security Council, and asked Bolivia to run in its place against Guatemala. “ Comrade ( Venezuelan President Hugo) Chavez says that to find a consensus, he leaves the candidacy to Bolivia,” President Evo Morales said yesterday. Neither Venezuela nor Guatemala was able to win enough votes to secure the spot after three dozen polls at the UN. A judge yesterday ruled that a nineyear- old Chicago- area boy should not be circumcise­d against his will. The boy’s mother and her new husband claimed the operation was necessary to prevent recurrent irritation and infection. The boy’s father sought an injunction to bar the circumcisi­on. gion. ... We can no longer accept seeing our ecosystem degraded by foreigners.”

Mr. Modi also alleged many of the nomads were armed with guns and threatened other inhabitant­s daily, though he did not say why.

He said the order would apply to about 150,000 Arabs in Niger from countries in the region, including Algeria, Libya and Chad.

Mr. Modi said the expulsions would take place “ with respect to human rights,” but gave no other details.

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