Saturday, September 16, 2006

López Obrador Loyalists End Seven-Week Protest

MEXICO CITY -- Supporters of Andrés Manuel López Obrador on Friday ended the street protest that clogged the heart of the capital for nearly seven weeks, but they vowed to find other ways to resist incoming president Felipe Calderón.

The former Mexico City mayor, who claims his narrow loss in the July 2 election was fraudulent, said he planned to travel across the country to meet with supporters.

Spokesman César Yañez said the protesters would not retake Mexico City's Reforma Avenue and its main plaza, the Zocalo, after they hold a convention there Saturday.

Traffic was already flowing along Reforma, which had been blocked by tents, cars and buses since July 30 in an unsuccessful bid to force a full recount in the presidential vote. Lorenzo Ysasi, head of the National Chamber of Commerce, said the demonstration cost the city more than 3,000 jobs and about 67 small businesses were forced to close.

The announcement of the end of the street protest came a day after President Vicente Fox moved Friday's independence celebration from the square to avoid protesters, leading López Obrador to declare victory in his battle with Fox.


· TOKYO -- Japan's Supreme Court rejected an appeal by doomsday cult founder Shoko Asahara, ensuring his execution for a string of killings, including the 1995 nerve gas attack on Tokyo's subways.

· TAIPEI, Taiwan -- At least 100,000 protesters demanding the resignation of Taiwan's scandal-plagued President Chen Shui-bian staged one of the biggest rallies ever in the capital after ending a weeklong sit-in outside his office.

· BANGKOK -- Three former election commissioners were convicted of dereliction of duty and sentenced to two years in prison for their role in April's general election fiasco.

The lawsuit was one of several filed against the commissioners by the opposition Democrat Party.

the americas

· PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti's prime minister asked the United States to lift the 15-year-old arms embargo that bars the country from buying U.S. weapons for its ill-equipped police force.

The embargo, imposed in 1991 after the Haitian military overthrew the government of President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, was aimed at preventing the Haitian army and thugs accused of gross human rights abuses from obtaining weapons from the U.S. market.

Many members of the Haitian police force, including some who served in the military, have been accused of human rights violations.

· LOS CABOS, Mexico -- Hurricane Lane roared along Mexico's Pacific coast after strengthening from a tropical storm, but it veered away from a luxury resort in Baja California that is popular with U.S. tourists. The U.S. National Hurricane Center predicted the Category 2 storm would come ashore Sunday.


· JOHANNESBURG -- Hundreds of people in Abidjan, the commercial capital of Ivory Coast, staged a violent protest against the open-air dumping of toxic waste there recently, beating a cabinet minister and burning down the home of a port director implicated in the scandal.

The health minister said seven people, including four children, have died in Abidjan after breathing fumes from the waste, which was unloaded at 14 open-air sites, including the city's main dump. Officials also expressed concern that groundwater could become contaminated.


· MOSCOW -- President Vladimir Putin said the killing of a top Central Bank official underlined the problem of economic crime in Russia, and he ordered the main security service and other government agencies to mount a coordinated crackdown.

The murder of the bank's first deputy chairman, Andrei Kozlov, who was shot in the head by two assailants Wednesday, is widely believed to be connected to his campaign against money laundering and other crimes in the banking sector.

· VIENNA -- U.N.-brokered talks in Vienna on the future status of Kosovo are in jeopardy, a deputy U.N. envoy warned Friday, as a bomb exploded beneath the Kosovo interior minister's car in the ethnically divided province.

-- From News Services

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