New government formed
President Thomas Boni Yayi on Sunday named a new government after sacking his entire Cabinet in part over concerns of some members’ alleged links to a businessman accused of trying to poison him. Yayi named a 26-member team and opted not to appoint a prime minister, a presidency statement said. There had been disagreements between Yayi and former prime minister Pascal Koukpaki and he will not be part of the new team. Koukpaki and another member of the government were suspected of being close to the businessman charged with the alleged poison plot, Patrice Talon, a presidential advisor said. There are no opposition politicians in the new government. Talon is currently in France, where a court is considering whether he should be extradited.
Jihadists plan jail break
Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula leader Nasser al-Wuhayshi said he would free jailed Islamist militants soon in a statement found on a jihadist Web site. Wuhayshi did not say how he would free those jailed, but al-Qaeda militants staged at least two prison breaks last month. Intercepted communication between al-Wuhayshi and al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahri was part of intelligence that prompted Washington to close 19 US embassies and send some staff in Yemen home last week. “We ask God to make us a cause for unlocking your incarceration and relieving your agony,” al-Wuhayshi said in the statement. “Your brothers are pounding the walls of injustice and the thrones of oppression. These walls and thrones are coming down every day and victory is but one step. Victory is one hour of perseverance.”
Group claims Eid bombings
An al-Qaeda affiliate said it carried out Saturday’s Eid al-Fitr bombings, which killed dozens of people, in response to a government campaign to arrest suspected militants, the SITE Monitoring group reported yesterday. The statement from Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) posted on jihadist forums claimed responsibility for the attacks across Baghdad and in southern provinces targeting people celebrating the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, SITE said. It has been one of the country’s deadliest Ramadan holidays in years, as Sunni Islamist militants wage an insurgency against the Shiite-led government. “They will pay a high price for what they did and they will not be secure day or night during Eid or other times, so they should watch their footsteps and stop the detention campaigns and cease harming the Sunni clans,” the ISIL statement said, according to a SITE translation.
Mosque closed after attack
The Sri Lanka Muslim Council closed down a new mosque in Colombo yesterday after attacks by a Buddhist mob. The council said it had agreed to shut its Grandpass mosque and move to an older place of worship that the government had earlier earmarked for demolition. “We have a compromise deal worked out last night,” council president N. M. Ameen told reporters. “The government will rescind the order acquiring the old mosque premises and will grant more land and help with renovations and improvements.” Buddhist-led mobs vandalized the new mosque on Saturday, wounding at least four people. Sporadic clashes also erupted on Sunday. Buddhists had objected to the setting up of the new mosque near a Buddhist temple even though it was built to replace the older mosque to be torn down for city works.