THE MIDDLE EAST
Egyptians Vote on President's 4th Term
CAIRO--Banners and loudspeakers proclaimed the virtues of President Hosni Mubarak as voters went to the polls yesterday for a yes-or-no referendum on the Egyptian leader. Most voters were expected to back Mubarak, ensuring him a fourth term in office. The 71-year-old president, one of Washington's closest allies in the Middle East, was the only candidate.
In the past three referendums, more than 95 percent of voters cast "yes" ballots for Mubarak. Results are expected today. There was no official word on how many of Egypt's 24 million eligible voters had cast ballots. Opposition groups boycotted the referendum, charging that it was a sham and urging the president to initiate direct, multiparty elections.
Fraud Alleged in Yemeni Election
SANAA, Yemen--Yemen's presidential election was marred by vote tampering and inflated government figures of how many people voted, opposition groups charged. The vote ended in the overwhelming reelection of President Ali Abdallah Salih.
The Higher Election Committee said 66 percent of the registered electorate of 5.6 million people cast ballots, with 96.3 percent voting for Salih and 3.7 percent for his only opponent, Najeeb Qahtan Shaabi. But polling stations across the country were relatively quiet during Thursday's election--the country's first direct presidential poll--and opposition parties said far fewer registered voters actually participated.
Jailed Iranian Publisher Demands Hearing
TEHRAN--The publisher of a pro-reform Iranian newspaper, sentenced to jail on a blasphemy conviction, sharply attacked the verdict as politically motivated and demanded a new, impartial hearing. On Saturday, the hard-line press tribunal sentenced Latif Safari, publisher of the banned Neshat daily, to 2 1/2 years in prison and banned him from practicing journalism for five years after he was convicted of "insulting basic tenets of the Koran and sacred values" and fanning a student unrest in July.
Brothers Saved 5 Days After Quake
TAIPEI, Taiwan--Two brothers were pulled to freedom after 5 1/2 days buried in the wreckage of Taiwan's earthquake. Sun Chi-kwang, 20, and Sun Chi-feng, 26, said they ate apples and played cards during the 130 hours they were trapped in a small space in the wreckage of a collapsed Taipei building.
The brothers were rescued as powerful aftershocks continued to jolt Taiwan. A particularly strong one hit early in the day, killing at least three people in addition to more than 2,000 who have already died as a result of Tuesday's powerful temblor.
13 Dead in Indian Election Violence
PATNA, India--Election-related violence continues to plague the eastern Indian state of Bihar, and the death toll has climbed to 13, police said. Recent victims include three activists from the Communist Party of India and a supporter of the state's ruling Rashtriya Janata Dal who were killed in a clash in Kabirpur village in Bihar, M.K. Sinha, inspector general of police, said.
The parliamentary election is being conducted in five phases. Voting for 418 seats of the 543-member lower house of parliament is now complete, and the fifth phase will be held by Oct. 4. The Hindu nationalist-led ruling coalition of Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee appears to be firmly in the lead, exit polls show.
Mexicans Vote in State Election
SALTILLO, Mexico-- Mexico's long-ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) declared itself the winner in the election for a state governor seen as a test of the public mood ahead of next year's presidential vote.
With 20 percent of ballots counted in the state of Coahuila, officials said the PRI candidate, Enrique Martinez, garnered 60 percent of the vote compared with 31 percent for Jose Antonio Garcia Villa, the candidate for a coalition of four opposition parties. Electoral officials said about 50 percent of the 1.3 million eligible voters turned out to vote.
Jose Antonio Gonzalez Fernandez, the national chairman for the PRI, proclaimed his party the winner and called on opponents to respect the voters' decision and concede defeat. But opposition leaders did not concede, saying the race had been plagued by vote-buying and coercion.
Explosion in Mexico Kills More Than 50
MEXICO CITY--A series of explosions and a fire destroyed a section of downtown Celaya in central Mexico, killing at least 56 people and injuring more than 340 others, state officials said. Media reports said the tragedy apparently began when a fireworks storehouse across the street from the city bus station exploded, starting a fire that caused cooking gas tanks at nearby restaurants to explode a few minutes later. The second explosion apparently trapped some rescuers who had responded to the first blast.
1,100 Brazilian Delinquents Escape Jail
SAO PAULO, Brazil--Hundreds of juvenile delinquents have escaped from detention centers in Sao Paulo over the past 15 days, unleashing a wave of violent crime that has frightened residents of Brazil's industrial heartland. In just over two weeks, 1,100 youths have escaped from two notoriously violent detention centers in the city, and fewer than 500 have been captured, authorities said.
Police in Sao Paulo, South America's biggest city, are beefing up units to grapple with what has been described as the biggest series of youth jailbreaks in history.
Mixed Results in German Local Elections
BERLIN--The conservative Christian Democrats made impressive gains in local elections in traditionally Social Democratic cities, delivering another embarrassment to Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and his party. But in the first recent bit of good news for the Social Democrats--who have suffered one loss after another this month in local balloting--the party confounded pollsters' expectations and finished first in voting for a city parliament in Bremerhaven.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
"There is so much disillusionment among young people that you have to fear for the future."
-- Attorney Jochen Laessig, reflecting on the changed environment in Leipzig, Germany, since democracy demonstrations there 10 years ago. -- Page A13.