People: Winnie pooh-poohs soft-porn comment

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THE ESTRANGED wife of South Africa's President, Winnie Mandela, is claiming defamation damages from four newspapers and a soft-porn magazine. Mrs Mandela, who is Deputy Minister for Arts, Culture and Technology in Nelson Mandela's government, is taking action against the Sowetan, the Daily Dispatch, the Cape Times and the Natal Mercury to the tune of 250,000 rand ( pounds 45,000) for each paper. She is also claiming 100,000 rand from the soft-porn magazine Hustler after it labelled her 'Asshole of the Month'. Hustler's editor says he believes the article was 'fair comment'.

The action follows publication in April by the four newspapers of an article in which Mrs Mandela was alleged to have misappropiated funds while head of the social welfare department of the African National Congress.

FIVE DAYS after emerging from hiding, the Bangladeshi feminist author, Taslima Nasrin, is writing a memoir about her days on the run from Islamic fundamentalists. 'I want to put into words the agonies I suffered during those terrible days in hiding,' she said, speaking from a heavily-guarded apartment building in Dhaka. Facing death threats from Muslim extremists for her belief that Islam fails to give women equal rights, Ms Nasrin went into hiding more than two months ago.

'While in hiding I thought I would write a diary. But I couldn't because I was moving from one house to another under fear of being killed or arrested. What a nightmare]' She added: 'With my family around me now I feel better. But I still avoid going near the windows in case a sniper bullet hits me.'

PERU'S First Lady, Susana Higuchi, following the example of her Argentine counterpart, Zulema Yoma de Menem, has flounced out of the presidential palace - not, Ms Higuchi hastens to add, because of 'marital discord' but over a 'difference of ideas'. Ms Higuchi, aka Mrs Alberto Fujimori, told her incredulous compatriots on nation-wide television that she was even considering running for president herself, to challenge the law barring members of the president's family from running for office. 'Unconstitutional,' she called it.

Meanwhile she would take 'a sort of vacation' in the home of her friend and ex-personal assistant, Rene Odria, in a discreet part of Lima 'to meditate in my own way without pressures'. Would she then go home? 'Of course.'

IT IS all very well for Ernesto Samper, newly installed as President of Colombia. He has glittering offices to glide into and an army of flunkeys for his every need. But for Vice-President Humberto de la Calle Lombana, inaugurated at the same ceremony as Mr Samper on Sunday, only a dispiriting limbo awaits.

Colombia revived the office of vice-president in its 1991 constitution after a break of 89 years, but bureaucratic tangles have meant that the newest incumbent has neither office, residence nor salary. Poor Mr de la Calle will have to squat in temporary digs drumming his fingers until Congress decides to grant him facilities befitting his office.

(Photograph omitted)

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