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Archive for Sunday, June 23, 2002

Briefly

June 23, 2002

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Afghanistan: Women's ministry post unfilled by president

President Hamid Karzai named the rest of his Cabinet on Saturday, filling more than a dozen posts but leaving one conspicuously vacant the ministry of women's affairs.

Karzai's spokesman Ahmed Yusuf Nuristani announced the remaining appointments but gave no explanation for why the previous minister of women's affairs, Seema Samar, had not been reappointed.

But as an outspoken advocate of women's rights, she was clearly unacceptable to the religious establishment.

The northern alliance that drove the Taliban from power with the help of U.S. bombs promised to enshrine the rights of Afghan women, who were deprived of basic liberties under the Taliban.

But only one woman was reappointed to the Cabinet: Dr. Sohaila Siddiqi, who was retained as health minister.

Malaysia: Prime minister rethinks resignation

Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad announced he was resigning from leading his party and the governing coalition Saturday, but changed his mind after supporters begged him to stay.

Mahathir, 76, has led Malaysia for 21 years and appears increasingly strong against the fundamentalists, who gained against his party in 1999 as voters reacted to the sacking and jailing of a popular deputy.

The prime minister announced his resignation in a closing speech at the annual congress of his United Malays National Organization. He later backed off the resignation.

Mahathir, who has transformed his country into one of Asia's richest nations, has emerged as a moderate Muslim leader committed to battling terrorism.

Montreal: Suspect arrested for plotting attack

Canadian anti-terrorism police have arrested a man suspected of helping militants who were planning to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Paris.

Adel Tobbichi, 34, was arrested Friday in Montreal.

Tobbichi, of Algerian origin, is alleged by Dutch police to have altered passports and other documents and provided them to militants planning to bomb the embassy.

Dutch authorities already are holding two French citizens they believe were involved in the bombing plot.

Pakistan: Confessions coerced, Pearl defendants say

Two co-defendants in the kidnap-murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl claimed Saturday they were framed by the FBI and tortured by Pakistani police into making confessions.

"All the witnesses in this case are either policemen or their agents, and the entire case is a fabrication of the police ... working under FBI instructions," said Salman Saqib, one of four defendants in the case. "We know that justice will not be done to us."

The claims by Saqib and co-defendant Fahad Naseem came a day after chief defendant Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh accused Pakistani authorities of fabricating the case against him.

Reporters are banned from attending the trial, but defense and prosecution teams regularly brief them.

Spain: Explosions coincide with European summit

Five powerful explosions rattled Spanish cities during a two-day European summit that ended Saturday. The Basque separatist group ETA claimed responsibility.

No injuries were reported in two Saturday blasts in the southern city of Malaga and the northern city of Santander.

Altogether, four bombs and a package of explosives went off on Friday and Saturday in three resorts on the Mediterranean Costa del Sol and in the northern cities of Saragossa and Santander.

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