World Digest: Sept. 8, 2013

September 7, 2013
AUSTRALIA
Conservatives score big win in elections

Australia’s conservative opposition swept to power Saturday, ending six years of Labor Party rule and winning over a disenchanted public by promising to end a hated tax on carbon emissions, boost a flagging economy and bring about political stability after years of Labor infighting.

“I know that Labor hearts are heavy across the nation tonight, and as your prime minister and as your parliamentary leader of the great Australian Labor Party, I accept responsibility,” Prime Minister Kevin Rudd said in a speech after calling opposition leader Tony Abbott to concede defeat. Rudd said he would step down as party leader.

The win for the conservative Liberal Party-led coalition comes despite the relative unpopularity of Abbott, 55, a former Catholic seminarian and Rhodes scholar who has struggled to connect with female voters and was once dubbed “unelectable” by opponents and even some supporters.

— Associated Press

IRAQ
U.N.: Last residents of exile camp to move

Iraqi authorities are planning to relocate the remaining residents of a camp housing dozens of Iranian exiles where 52 people were killed last week, the U.N. mission to the country said Saturday.

The Shiite-led Iraqi government long has wanted to remove the Mujahideen-e Khalq dissident group from Camp Ashraf, a Saddam Hussein-era compound 60 miles northeast of the Iraqi capital, but the exiles have been reluctant to leave. Baghdad considers their presence in Iraq illegal.

Thousands of camp residents relocated to a Baghdad area facility after months of negotiations. A core of about 100 MEK members stayed behind, 52 of whom were killed in shootings Sunday that the group blames on Iraqi security forces, and seven others are missing. Iraqi officials blame an internal dispute.

The U.N. mission said that Iraqi officials are expected to carry out “without delay” an order to move the remaining residents from Camp Ashraf to the Baghdad facility, a former U.S. military base.

— Associated Press

COLOMBIA
Farmers, government agree; protests to end

Colombia’s farm leaders agreed Saturday to end a three-week protest that had turned violent, caused food shortages and put pressure on President Juan Manuel Santos just a few months before he must decide whether to seek a second term in office.

Thousands of farmers have manned roadblocks on major highways, preventing supplies from reaching cities, and clashing with police in a show of anger in which at least five people died.

The farmers are angry at the high price of fertilizers and at free-trade agreements with the United States and Europe that made it hard to compete with cheap imports.

The government signed accords with farm leaders in Cundinamarca, Boyaca, Narino and Huila provinces to cut fertilizer prices and provide cheap credit, among other concessions.

— Reuters

Ousted Nasheed leads in Maldives election: Partial presidential election results in the Maldives showed Mohamed Nasheed leading Saturday, nearly 20 months after his removal from power ignited months of unrest. But he was likely to fall short of a majority, officials in his party said, suggesting a runoff vote was probable. Nasheed, the Maldives’ first democratically elected president, was forced from office in February 2012 in what his supporters say was a coup and ran in this election against three rivals, including President Mohammed Waheed Hassan, his successor.

Hundreds protest deadly police shootings in Kashmir: A protest erupted after Indian police said they killed two alleged militants and two civilians in the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir, while authorities maintained tight security for a classical music concert led by renowned conductor Zubin Mehta being staged amid separatist objections. Officials said police were retaliating against alleged militants who had opened fire on a police camp in Shopian district, south of Srinagar, the main city in the Indian portion of Kashmir.

Tunisians turn out in force to demand new government: Tens of thousands of Tunisians marched on the seat of the elected assembly demanding that the government resign in one of the largest opposition protests to date. Saturday marked 40 days since the assassination of opposition politician Mohammed Brahmi, whose killing has plunged the country into a political crisis.

— From news services

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