■ Ivory Coast
Key posts filled
After months of wrangling, Ivory Coast's power-sharing government on Saturday filled the key ministerial posts of defense and security, but rebels rejected the appointments and accused President Laurent Gbagbo of forcing them through. The government named Rene Amani, a political independent and a former cocoa industry executive as defense minister. Martin Bleou, a university teacher and independent human rights activist, was named minister of interior security. Cabinet officials representing rebels, opposition parties and Gbagbo loyalists have argued over the two positions since January, when a French-brokered peace accord created a blueprint to lead Ivory Coast out of war and toward elections, scheduled for 2005.
■ South Africa
Marine life to get protection
A new protected marine area involving 10 west African countries and a major expansion of conservation areas in Madagascar will be unveiled at a congress in South Africa next week, organizers said on Saturday. Madagascar President Marc Ravalomanana, Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini and the Ghananian king of the Akyem Abuakwa, Osagyefuo Amoatia Ofori Panin, will attend the celebrations at the World Parks Congress in the eastern port city of Durban on Tuesday.
Dance party hits Paris
Techno music lovers descended on Paris in their thousands on Saturday, gyrating their way through the French capital in a music fest that aimed to defend their right to party. A record 300,000 people turned out for France's fifth Techno Parade, according to the organizers, only 100,000 according to the police, strutting their stuff behind 21 floats that wound their way across Paris bathed in the late summer sun. Some 150 disc jockeys spun their tunes, pumping out a massive 300,000 watts of music from huge sound systems mounted on trucks that filed down the city's main avenues to finish in Place de la Bastille in eastern Paris.
Grannies beat glamor
Semi-clad young beauty queens have suffered an unprecedented defeat at the hands of fully-dressed grandmothers in the Italian television ratings battle. When beauty pageant Miss Italia, a yearly fest of sexy girls in swimsuits, went head to head with Velone, a dance and comedy contest for ladies over 65 on a rival channel, the grannies came out on top. With both programs on air on Thursday night, 4.94 million Italians tuned in to see the wisecracking older women, while 4.82 million were eyeing the voluptuous would-be starlets. In previous years, Miss Italia had always got much higher ratings than competing programs.