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Thursday, April 14, 2005; Page A21

Lebanon's Pro-Syrian Premier Resigns

BEIRUT -- Omar Karami, Lebanon's pro-Syrian prime minister, stepped down Wednesday, saying he was unable to form a new government after nearly seven weeks of deadlock. The move raised doubts about whether upcoming elections would be held on time.

The opposition warned of new street protests to push officials into holding the vote on schedule, by May 31. The opposition expects to win the vote and end the longtime domination of parliament by pro-Syrian factions.

President Emile Lahoud, also pro-Syrian, set Friday for the start of consultations on picking another prime minister, who would launch new negotiations for a government.

Lebanon has been without a government since Karami first resigned as prime minister Feb. 28 following massive anti-Syrian street protests prompted by the assassination in Beirut of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.


• RAMALLAH, West Bank -- The Palestinian Authority has decided on limited coordination with Israel on its planned pullout of settlers and troops from the Gaza Strip and will place all evacuated land under government control, according to a senior official.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, meanwhile, told CNN that he favored leaving the buildings in the settlements intact after the pullout, depending on coordination with the Palestinians.


• BOGOTA, Colombia -- Colombia's human rights situation was "critical" last year, with torture and murder committed not only by illegal guerrilla and paramilitary groups but also by members of the state security forces, the U.N. human rights agency said in a report.

• QUITO, Ecuador -- Police clashed with protesters who blocked streets with burning tires, paralyzing parts of Ecuador's capital, after the government and Congress failed to reach a truce over control of the country's courts.

• MEXICO CITY -- At least five workers died in a toxic spill of ammonia while they were repairing an oil pipeline in the southern state of Veracruz, and about 6,000 people living nearby were evacuated, authorities said.


• LAHORE, Pakistan -- Police arrested hundreds of activists planning to welcome home the husband of Benazir Bhutto, the opposition leader in exile.

The arrests created the prospect of a showdown between police and Bhutto's supporters on Saturday, when Asif Ali Zardari is scheduled to return after visiting his wife in Dubai. The president, Gen. Pervez Musharraf, leaves that day for peace talks in India.


• ROME -- A policeman who shot and killed a protester during riots at the Group of Eight summit in Genoa in 2001 was found unfit for duty and dismissed from Italy's paramilitary carabinieri force, his lawyer said.

-- From News Services

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