Arroyo Ally Resigns;

Husband Begins Exile

MANILA -- President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, facing allegations that she rigged elections and demands that she resign, lost a key cabinet supporter Thursday and sent her husband, accused of corruption, into exile in Hong Kong.

Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap, facing unrelated tax evasion charges, said he was stepping down to clear his name and spare Arroyo further damage.

Accusations that Arroyo's relatives, including her husband, took kickbacks from illegal gambling have deepened the political scandal buffeting her administration. Arroyo's husband, Jose Miguel, as well as a son and his wife, daughter and nanny, left for Hong Kong on Thursday evening.

THE MIDDLE EAST

* CAIRO -- The prosecution of Ayman Nour, an opposition leader campaigning to unseat President Hosni Mubarak in elections this fall, was seriously undermined when an accuser said security agents had forced him to concoct charges of document forgery against Nour.

The surprise announcement was made by Ayman Ismael Refai, one of five others on trial with Nour. Refai originally testified that Nour ordered him to falsify hundreds of documents to help qualify the candidate's Tomorrow Party as a legal political organization.

But Refai said in court that security agents threatened harm to two nieces if he refused to confess to fraud and accuse Nour. "Anyone in my shoes would have done the same thing," Refai said.

-- Daniel Williams

Africa

* KINSHASA, Congo -- Riot police fired tear gas and beat demonstrators with batons as thousands protested delays to Congo's first postwar presidential elections. At least six died in violence nationwide, the United Nations said. The elections, which had been set for Thursday, were postponed until next year.

* KHARTOUM, Sudan -- Sudan announced the imminent end of a state of emergency across most of the country and began releasing political prisoners. Sudan has been under a state of emergency for 16 years, and the moves were expected to help prepare the way for a transitional government with former rebels.

* HARARE, Zimbabwe -- At least three people have been killed this week as the Zimbabwean government destroys what it says are illegal houses, Amnesty International and Action Aid said. Two women, one of them pregnant, were killed when they fell off a truck, the groups said, and a 4-year-old boy was run over by another truck.

EUROPE

* MOSCOW -- A police captain accused of allowing two Chechens to pass through security at a Moscow airport and bomb two jets was sentenced to seven years in prison for negligence. Officials said the two women smuggled explosives onto the planes, which crashed within minutes of each other on Aug. 24, 2004, killing 90 people.

-- From News Services