Confusion surrounds emergency rule’s end

A court declared that Egypt’s three-month-old state of emergency expired Tuesday, two days earlier than expected, but the military and security officials held off from implementing the ruling and lifting a nighttime curfew, amid worries that the move will fuel protests by supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

The measures appeared to have been aimed at helping authorities tighten their security grip amid near-daily protests by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Morsi supporters demanding his reinstatement.

On Monday, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, who heads the security forces, said that the state of emergency would expire Thursday and that security reinforcements would deploy in the streets at that time — a sign of worries over intensified protests.

The ruling by the Cairo Administrative Court appeared to have surprised the government, and officials said they were not immediately implementing it until they were formally notified.

— Associated Press

Rebel talks collapse; Uganda draws blame

The Congolese government delegation has quit Ugandan-hosted talks with M23 rebels, saying Kampala’s support for insurgents was to blame for the failure to sign a pact to officially end Congo’s latest rebellion.

Congo’s accusations show the deep mistrust in the region, a barrier to long-term peace despite the defeat of the M23’s 20-month insurgency by Congo’s U.N.-backed army.

Okello Oryem, Uganda’s junior foreign affairs minister, said he expected it would be a few more days before any deal could be signed to end the most serious Congolese uprising in a decade.

Congolese and rebel negotiators failed to agree on the wording of the document meant to cap the swift military gains that led to M23 last week abandoning its uprising in eastern Congo.

— Reuters

Netanyahu halts plan for new settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday backed off controversial plans for potential construction of thousands of homes in the West Bank, including development of a disputed area near Jerusalem.

The plan, announced by Israel’s Housing Ministry earlier in the day, prompted a Palestinian threat to walk out of peace talks. U.S. officials said they were “surprised” by the Israeli announcement and sought an explanation.

In a statement issued late Tuesday, Netanyahu said that the plan would make “no contribution” to settlements and that the announcement had caused “unnecessary conflict” with the international community just as
Israel is trying to rally pressure to halt Iran’s nuclear program.

— Associated Press

China, Cuba among 4 elected to U.N. rights body: China, Cuba, Russia and Saudi Arabia won three-year seats on the Geneva-based Human Rights Council, the United Nations’ top rights body, despite concerns about abuses and restrictions on freedoms in all four nations. With their return, “human rights defenders will have their work cut out for them” on the 47-member body, said Peggy Hicks of Human Rights Watch. “Fortunately, no states have a veto in Geneva, so a hard-working majority can still achieve concrete results.”

Pirates free 2 Americans in Nigeria: Two Americans who were kidnapped from their ship off Nigeria by pirates last month have been released, the State Department said. The captain and chief engineer were seized Oct. 23 when gunmen attacked the U.S.-flagged C-Retriever, a commercial vessel. The White House said last month that it was increasingly concerned about the rise in piracy off West Africa.

— From news services