February 16, 2013

Demonstrations in Bahrain and the look at food security in Mali. I'm Steve Karesh reporting from Washington.

Thousands of opposition supporters held demonstrations in Bahrain's capital on Friday, leading to clashes for a second straight day.

Anti-government protesters jammed a major highway that links several Shiite-populated areas to the capital to mark the second anniversary of an uprising against the country's Sunni rulers.

The march along the main highway was largely peaceful. However, breakaway groups clashed with riot police in nearby neighborhoods.

Witnesses say demonstrators threw stones and police fired tear gas. During protests on Thursday, a teenage boy was killed by police gunfire on the outskirts of the capital. And overnight, a policeman died after being hit by a homemade explosive.

Russian officials say a meteor streaked across the sky above Russia's Ural Mountains Friday, causing explosions, shattering windows and setting off alarms.

Officials say more than 400 people in the Chelyabinsk region were injured, many of them hurt by broken glass.

South African runner Oscar Pistorius wept in court on Friday as prosecutors said they will pursue a pre-meditated murder charge against him in the killing of his girlfriend.

Prosecutors accused Pistorius of shooting his girlfriend, a model and law school graduate, at his home in Pretoria on Valentine's Day.

Investigators say the victim who was around 30 years of age was shot four times by a pistol registered to Pistorius.

Pistorius is regarded as a sports hero and a national icon in South Africa. He made history last August when he became the first double-amputee to run in the Olympics. He is known as the "Blade Runner" for competing on high-tech artificial legs.

The conflict in northern Mali is threatening the country's food security. Many farmers are among the hundreds of thousands of people who've recently been displaced. Joe DeCapua reports.

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization says the next planting season is in jeopardy.

Daniele Donati, the chief of emergency operations, says that affects both internally displaced persons and those who've fled to neighboring countries.

"There is an estimated 230-240,000 IDPs in the country and 150,000 refugees. We need to provide them basic packages to resume normal agricultural activities."

Donati says there are other problems affecting Mali's food security, as well.

"Borders are closed, limiting trade. Prices are going up."

The FAO reports that even before the conflict, Mali was feeling the effects of a drought.

Joe DeCapua, VOA news, Washington.

For more on the situation in Mali, visit us online voanews.com.

A top South Korean diplomat says Seoul is seeking a United Nations resolution that will permit military action against North Korea, following Pyongyang's latest nuclear test.

If a resolution is passed that includes that provision, it could allow military ships anywhere in the world to intercept and board North Korean vessels suspected of carrying weapons or nuclear missile components--all prohibited under UN sanctions.

The diplomat said, however, that he is uncertain if China will endorse such a plan.

Kenya's High Court has cleared the way for presidential candidate Uhuru Kenyatta and his running mate , William Ruto, to run in the country's March 4 presidential election despite the fact that both men face charges of crimes against humanity. Mohammed Yusuf reports.

Kenya's High Court has dismissed a petition filed by five non-governmental organizations seeking to block presidential hopeful Mr Kenyatta and his running mate from taking part in the election. The men are charged by the ICC with crimes committed during inter-tribal fighting that swept across Kenya in early 2008 following the disputed 2007 election. Their trial is due to begin on April 11 at the Hague. Both men deny the ICC charges.

The Kenya High Court say(s) it has no jurisdiction over the eligibility matter and say(s) that the petitioners should have first taken their case to the Independent Election Board.

Mohammed Yusuf, VOA news, Nairobi.

Elsewhere in Africa, Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe has officially issued a proclamation setting March 16 as a date for a referendum on a proposed new constitution, a move that sets the stage for elections later this year.

The proposed constitution would for the first time set presidential term limits. However, the limits would not be retroactive.

Reporting from Washington, I'm Steve Karesh. You're listening to VOA news.