Egypt's Main Opposition

Puts 35 in Final Runoff

CAIRO -- Election officials said Friday that Egypt's leading opposition group did not win any seats outright in the final round of parliamentary voting, which was marred by violence and police barring thousands from the polls.

However, 35 Muslim Brotherhood candidates will compete in runoffs next week in races in which no one got more than half the vote Thursday. The runoffs will decide the final 127 elected seats in the 454-seat parliament.

It was the first time in the three-stage elections, which began Nov. 9, that Brotherhood candidates failed to win a single seat before the runoffs. The banned group, which runs candidates as independents, did surprisingly well in the first two rounds, winning 76 seats -- five times as many as it now holds.

President Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party had 201 seats after Thursday's vote.

EUROPE

* VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican defended its decision to exclude Brazilian singer Daniela Mercury from its Christmas concert, saying she had threatened to promote the use of condoms to fight AIDS during the show. Mercury is an ambassador for the U.N. anti-AIDS program.

* AMSTERDAM -- A broad coalition of political parties in the Netherlands unveiled a pilot program to regulate marijuana farming on the model of tobacco, which opponents say would be tantamount to legalizing commercial cultivation. The test program is to be conducted in the southern city of Maastricht.

* MINSK, Belarus -- The parliament in the former Soviet republic of Belarus, whose president is accused in the West of crushing all dissent, approved legislation intended to curb attempts at popular upheaval like Ukraine's Orange Revolution. The measure would make it a crime to incite protests, join illegal groups or spread information deemed harmful to national interests. President Alexander Lukashenko plans to seek reelection next year.

ASIA

* GAZIPUR, Bangladesh -- Police questioned 58 suspected Islamic militants in bombing attacks outside government buildings this week that killed at least nine people and wounded scores of others, authorities said. Police said they also discovered and defused nine bombs left near government buildings in the southwestern city of Khulna and the central town of Sirajganj.

THE AMERICAS

* PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Gunmen have released 14 Haitian children and an American missionary who were abducted in separate incidents Thursday, police said.

-- From News Services