WORLD IN BRIEF
Monday, May 17, 2004; Page A18
Dominican President Concedes Defeat at Polls
SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- President Hipolito Mejia conceded defeat late Sunday in an election marked by an outpouring of public anger over the Dominican Republic's worst economic crisis in decades. Mejia announced that he was recognizing former president Leonel Fernandez as winner after only about 3 percent of the results were officially released.
An independent exit poll cited by Fernadez's party gave the former president 54.5 percent to Mejia's 31 percent, with Eduardo Estrella trailing at 12 percent. An estimated 70 percent of 5 million registered voters cast ballots.
The vote had been marred by complaints of irregularities and violence that left at least three dead and three wounded. A clash first broke out Sunday in a line of voters outside a school in the southwestern town of Barahona when a Mejia supporter and a backer of his leading rival pulled guns and opened fire during an argument, observers said.
On the outskirts of Santo Domingo, journalists saw armed men in a vehicle fire into the air and unsuccessfully try to steal ballot boxes in a clash that left one man with a stab wound in the thigh.
THE MIDDLE EAST
• KUWAIT CITY -- Kuwait's cabinet approved a draft law that would allow women to vote and run for parliament, moving them a step closer to the full political rights they have sought for decades in the conservative Gulf Arab state. The draft needs parliament's approval to become law. A decree issued by the emir, Sheik Jabir Ahmed Sabah, giving women the vote was narrowly defeated in the 50-man house in 1999 by an alliance of Islamic and conservative tribal lawmakers. Kuwaiti women have been fighting for suffrage for more than 40 years.
• ANKARA, Turkey -- British Prime Minister Tony Blair is set to visit Turkey on Monday to pledge his support for Ankara's bid to join the European Union and to discuss the turmoil in neighboring Iraq.
Late Sunday, four small bombs exploded outside branches of the British bank HSBC in Ankara and Istanbul, but police said there were no casualties.
• MEUNASAH KRUENG, Indonesia -- Rebels in the Indonesian province of Aceh have freed a cameraman working for a private television network, along with several other civilian hostages, witnesses said on Monday. Ferry Santoro of Indonesia's Rajawali Citra television station was freed late Sunday after being taken hostage by Free Aceh Movement rebels last July, not long after Jakarta imposed martial law in Aceh.
• QUETTA, Pakistan -- A Pentecostal preacher was feared kidnapped in Pakistan, apparently by an unknown Islamic militant group, after he disappeared in the southwestern city of Quetta, his friends and family said.
Wilson Fazal, a Pakistani Christian cleric at a city church, had received threatening letters from an unknown group urging him to convert to Islam or face unspecified consequences, his son Jerry said.
The son said the latest handwritten letter was delivered to their house five days ago, asking Wilson to stop preaching Christianity. The letter was apparently sent by a group calling itself Mahaz-i-Jihad, or "Frontier of the Holy War."
• KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Hundreds of Malaysian troops were deployed to newly built outposts along the nation's border with Thailand's Muslim-dominated south, the site of dozens of clashes between suspected Islamic separatists and Thai security forces in recent months, the national news agency reported.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company