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UN Refugee Chief Warns Ivory Coast Conflict Could Spillover to Liberia

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, warns the conflict in Ivory Coast could spillover to Liberia and have a major destabilizing affect in all of West Africa. The refugee chief has just returned from a series of missions, including one to Liberia at the border with Ivory Coast.

U.N. refugee chief, Antonio Guterres, calls Ivory Coast one of the most dramatic displacement crises in the world. As of now, the U.N. refugee agency has registered more than 120,000 Ivorian refugees in Liberia and several thousand more in Ghana, Togo and Guinea.

Ivory Coast Braces for Violent Showdown

Residents in Ivory Coast's commercial capital remained inside their homes Monday, as forces loyal to the country's internationally recognized president prepared for a final push to oust its incumbent leader.

Forces backing President Alassane Ouattara have overtaken much of the country in the past week, and now seem set to try and force incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo from the presidential palace in Abidjan. Ouattara was declared the winner of the November election, but Gbagbo refuses to give up power.

Vietnamese Dissident Gets 7 Year Jail Sentence

Cu Huy Ha Vu, a political activist from an elite Vietnamese family, has been sentenced to seven years in jail for allegedly attempting to subvert the Vietnamese government.

Vu is charged with calling for the dissolution of Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party, advocating a multi-party political system, and characterizing the Vietnam War as a civil war.

A judge said Vu’s published writings and interviews had "blackened, directly or indirectly" Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party. He will serve three years of house arrest after his release.

Yemen Police Kill at Least 12 Protesters

Yemeni police have fired on anti-government protesters in the southern city of Taez, killing at least 12 people. The incident came amid an escalation of violence in several cities in Yemen.

Medics say several others were wounded in Monday's clashes. Witnesses say the protesters had tried to storm a provincial government building.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that the United States is dropping its support for President Ali Abdullah Saleh and is negotiating the terms of his departure.

USS ENTERPRISE

A GROUND-BREAKING SHIP
The supercarrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) is a futuristic-looking vessel. Although she has turned 50 years old, she is still a front-line combat vessel fighting the Global War on Terror.

Today, she carries four squadrons of multi-role fighters, along with specialist electronic-warfare and airborne early warning fixed-wing aircraft, and helicopters. USS Enterprise is one of 11 nuclear-powered carriers in service with the United States Navy, and is capable of rapid response to a crisis.

Abidjan Fighting Surrounds Incumbent President's Home

In Ivory Coast's commercial capital, Abidjan, forces loyal to the internationally recognized President Alassane Ouattara surround the home of incumbent President Laurent Gbagbo who has refused to give up power. There is heavy fighting in Abidjan's Cocody neighborhood around Gbagbo's residence, but it is unclear if he is inside.

Pro-Ouattara forces took control of state television late Thursday, its last images showing Gbagbo in the driveway joking with supporters.

Zambian Leader Urges Democratic Reform in Region Or Risk Egypt-Style Revolts

A Southern African Development Community mini-summit in Livingstone, Zambia, took a surprise turn on Thursday as Zambian President Rupiah Banda warned countries in the region including Zimbabwe to heed the lessons of Tunisia and Egypt and implement democratic reforms before they too face mass demonstrations and uprisings.

Banda as host made his remarks in opening the meeting of the SADC troika on security, defense and politics called to examine the current stage of the crisis in Zimbabwe as well as issues in other countries in Africa's southern tier.

Ivory Coast Rebels Now Control Official Capital

Forces opposed to incumbent Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo have seized the country's official capital, Yamoussoukro, although Gbagbo forces still control the main seat of power in Abidjan.

A spokeswoman for the New Forces rebels, who support Mr. Gbagbo's presidential rival, Alassane Ouattara, told VOA that fighters entered Yamoussoukro Wednesday, after making major advances across Ivory Coast. Residents say pro-Gbagbo forces have fled and that pro-Ouattara forces are walking and driving through the streets.

China Urges Respect for New Burma Government

China has praised Burma’s new government for promoting democracy. Beijing denounced other countries for criticizing its close neighbor’s new administration, which was sworn in this week.

Offering China’s congratulations to the new Burma government, which took office Wednesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu was quick to warn other countries not to meddle in its neighbor's internal affairs.

Jiang says Beijing disapproves of those countries which claim the new civilian-led parliament in Burma is merely the old, military-led government in a new guise.