Top of the Morning: Syria Ceasefire Deadline Comes; Mugabe Death Watch?; Money Quote from a Donor

Top stories from the Development and Aid World News Service–DAWNS Digest.

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Syria Ceasefire Deadline Comes…And Troop Withdrawal Begins

The deadline for the Annan deal has arrived. Fighting leading up to today make it appear as if Syria would not comply, but the announcement by the foreign minister that troops are being pulled back may signal the nation’s compliance with the deal. However, reported attacks after the deadline and the desire of Syria to determine the implementation team signals an uneasy transition. “Walid al-Muallem, speaking on Tuesday after meeting his Russian counterpart in Moscow, said Syria wanted a say in the composition of an international team to observe implementation of a ceasefire in the country. “We have already withdrawn forces and army units from several Syrian provinces,” Muallem said. “An end of violence must be simultaneous with the arrival of the international observers.” Brokered by Kofi Annan, the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria, the six-point peace plan required Syrian forces to pull back from protest centres by Tuesday. But activists say that Syrian forces have attacked two towns as the deadline passed. Shelling was reported in the northern village of Marea and mortar fire in the city of Homs, according to the Associated Press news agency.” (Al Jazeera

Mugabe Death Watch? 

The rumors are swirling that Zimbabwe’s long serving president may be near the end of his final term, as it were. Robert Mugabe is 88 years old. He’s been in Singapore for over a week for the official purpose of seeing his daughter off to graduate school. Instead, he is said to be “fighting for his life” at a hospital “The Zimbabwe Mail, quoting a senior official of Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, said the President was undergoing intensive treatment in Singapore and that some members of his family had joined him after boarding a chartered private jet on Saturday. The alarm was raised when the government postponed a cabinet meeting set for today.  ‘The Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Dr Misheck Sibanda, wishes to inform all members of cabinet that sitting has been moved from Tuesday, April 10, to Thursday, April 12, 2012,’ Mugabe spokesman George Charamba said. Mugabe was flown to Singapore last week after collapsing at his home. The official line, however, is that the dictator was in Singapore to oversee the arrangements for his daughter Bona to study at university.  Singapore University registration starts in September. (Herald Sun  To make matters more confusing, and a bit fun, a fake twitter handle (@zanu_pf) appeared during the day that confused jounalists a bit until it was realized that the tweets were not coming from the political party of Mugabe. (GlobalPost

Money Quote from a Donor: After years of keeping aid and commerce apart, Australia’s aid agency AusAID is opening up to ideas and closer engagement with business, according to deputy director general James Batley. (The Australian