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Archive for Tuesday, December 30, 2003

Briefly

December 30, 2003

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Serbia-Montenegro

Milosevic wins parliament seat

Jailed former President Slobodan Milosevic and another U.N. war crimes suspect won seats in Serbia's parliament as an extreme nationalist party swept weekend elections, according to results released Monday.

Vojislav Seselj's Serbian Radical Party, which supported Milosevic's Balkan war campaigns in the 1990s, won 81 seats in Sunday's ballot for the 250-seat parliament -- far more than the pro-Western groups that toppled Milosevic three years ago, the state electoral commission said.

Milosevic, of the Serbian Socialist Party, and Seselj are jailed by the U.N. tribunal at The Hague, Netherlands, on atrocity charges stemming from the wars in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.

They topped their parties' lists in a parliamentary vote considered crucial for the still-volatile Balkans, meaning they each have a right to a seat. Milosevic's Socialists won 22 seats.

Milosevic and Seselj can't attend parliamentary sessions, but their parties can still decide to award them seats when the new parliament convenes in January.

Pakistan

Parliament approves deal for Musharraf

Pakistan's parliament on Monday passed a landmark constitutional amendment giving U.S.-backed President Gen. Pervez Musharraf extraordinary powers in return for a promise that he will quit his army post by the end of next year.

Supporters hailed the legislation as a return to democracy, while opponents staged a walkout and decried the deal as window-dressing on what they say is essentially military rule.

The vote came five days after a surprise deal between Musharraf and a hardline Islamic political bloc, the Mutahida Majlis-e-Amal, or MMA, which has been highly critical of the U.S.-led war in neighboring Afghanistan, and voiced support for that country's ousted Taliban regime.

It also came on the heels of two separate assassination attempts against the 60-year-old leader, the last coming on Christmas Day as the president's motorcade made its way through a crowded street in Rawalpindi, just outside the capital.

Monday's decision will allow Musharraf to serve out his presidential term, which ends in 2007, and formalize special powers he had given himself allowing him to sack the prime minister and disband parliament by decree.

Guatemala City

Election results likely to please U.S.

The conservative ex-mayor of Guatemala's capital easily defeated his leftist opponent in presidential elections, Monday's results showed.

The victory seems likely to swing the country back to the conservative, U.S.-friendly rule of the early and mid-1990s.

Oscar Berger, who was declared winner of Sunday's election with 54 percent of the vote, has pledged to create jobs, stamp out corruption, and beat back rising crime rates -- promises sure to please a U.S. government that recently feared the return to power of an ex-dictator accused of genocide.

Berger, who was mayor of Guatemala City from 1990 until 1999, defeated center-leftist Alvaro Colom in the run-off elections, which were peaceful and orderly.

The 1,000 Guatemalan and international observers on hand reported almost no violence or incidents of voting fraud during the balloting.

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