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Friday, December 31, 2004; Page A30

Ukraine Officials Reject Challenge by Yanukovych

KIEV, Ukraine -- Election officials on Thursday rejected Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych's voluminous challenge to results showing he lost this week's repeat presidential runoff, saying he had not proved any widespread violations.

Yanukovych's campaign team vowed to take its legal fight for the presidency to Ukraine's Supreme Court even as reformer Viktor Yushchenko mapped out plans for his inauguration and first 100 days in office.

The revote was ordered by the high court after it annulled a Nov. 21 runoff, saying the results that gave victory to Yanukovych were tainted by fraud.


BAGHDAD -- Three militant groups warned Iraqis against voting in Jan. 30 elections, saying that people participating in the "dirty farce" risked attack. All 700 employees of the electoral commission in Mosul reportedly resigned after being threatened. The warning came a day after insurgents in Mosul, the scene of increased violence in recent weeks, launched a highly coordinated assault on a U.S. military outpost. U.S. officials said 25 insurgents were believed slain and one American soldier was killed in the battle, which involved strafing runs by U.S. warplanes.

JERUSALEM -- Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reached a deal with Shimon Peres to name the opposition leader as Sharon's senior deputy, clearing a key obstacle to the formation of a unity government capable of withdrawing from the occupied Gaza Strip.

In the Gaza Strip, an Israeli drone fired a missile early on Friday morning, killing two Palestinian militants a day after Israeli troops killed nine Palestinians.


MADRID -- Spain took a major step toward becoming the third country to legalize gay marriage when its Socialist government approved a draft law allowing gay couples to marry, divorce and adopt children. The bill, little changed from an October draft, will now be sent to parliament, where officials expect it to pass comfortably.


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Gen. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan's president, told the nation he was going back on his vow to give up his additional role of army chief, listing the fight against terrorism among his reasons. Musharraf, who previously pledged to quit his military role by the end of the year, set no new time limit and said he needed to keep the post in the interests of Pakistan's peace process with India and the fight against terrorism.


LIMA, Peru -- A Peruvian journalist, Duber Mauriola, who had been seized by a mob of armed villagers in a remote Andean jungle, was released four days after being abducted, beaten and tied to a post for supporting a copper mining project, police said.

-- From News Services

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