By Khalid Abdel Aziz and Maggie Fick KHARTOUM/CAIRO (Reuters) - Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's appointment of an old military ally as his deputy may shield one of Africa's longest-serving rulers from risks at home and abroad. In a government shake-up, Bashir named Lieutenant General Bakri Hassan Saleh - a confidant who helped him stage his 1989 coup and crush many rebellions - as first vice president, replacing veteran politician Ali Osman Taha. By positioning Saleh one step away from his own job, Bashir may be crafting a strategy to avoid being handed over to the International Criminal Court on charges of genocide if he keeps his promise to step down in 2015. The reshuffle announced on Sunday by Bashir underscores the diminishing role of Islamists such as Taha as the president turns to more trusted allies in the military, an organisation important to his survival in a country with a history of coups.
An influential Chinese paper lashed out on Wednesday at comparisons between Nelson Mandela and China's jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, saying Liu was a common criminal not worthy of any praise. Many Chinese internet users have noted the apparent contradiction of Beijing lauding Mandela's legacy at the same time that it continues a harsh crackdown on its own human rights activists. Microbloggers have particularly alluded to Liu, whose name is banned from appearing online by government censors. Chinese state media almost never mention well-known dissidents by name, making the editorial highly unusual and underscoring government anger at foreign criticism of its rights record, especially from the United States.
KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — The Afghan Interior Ministry says a car bomb has exploded near a gate used by NATO troops in the northern section of the Kabul airport. There were no casualties in the attack.