Archive for Sunday, May 23, 2004


May 23, 2004



New government sworn in, takes power

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's new coalition government took power Saturday, promising more money for social programs and more taxes to pay for them.

Singh, India's first Sikh prime minister, was sworn in by President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, a Muslim, and father of the country's nuclear missile program. But as negotiations on Cabinet appointments continued in the hours before the ceremony, it was clear that Italian-born Sonia Gandhi remains a powerful force behind the new government after suddenly stepping aside as its candidate for prime minister last week.

Gandhi, the widow of assassinated former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, is still president of the Congress Party.

Singh, 71, was at Gandhi's residence until around 2 a.m. Saturday negotiating which coalition partner would get what share of the Cabinet posts. They are to be announced today.


Bomb kills two at Muslim shrine

A bomb exploded during noon prayers Friday at a Muslim shrine in northeastern Bangladesh, killing two Bangladeshi men and wounding about 100 people, including the British ambassador, police and witnesses said.

Four people were arrested later in the day, police said Saturday, a police officer said on condition of anonymity. He did not elaborate.

British High Commissioner Anwar Choudhury was taken to Osmani Medical College Hospital in Sylhet. He suffered an injury to his right leg that did not appear to be serious, the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Choudhury was flown to the capital, Dhaka, by military helicopter after his treatment. Choudhury, a 44-year-old Bangladeshi-born Briton, was visiting the shrine after assuming his post last week.

No one claimed responsibility for the blast at the Hazrat Shahjalal shrine in Sylhet.


Army protests U.S. troops' incursion

Pakistan's army has lodged a strong protest with U.S.-led coalition forces based in neighboring Afghanistan over an incursion by U.S. troops into a Pakistani tribal region while chasing terror suspects, an army spokesman said Saturday.

The incursion occurred Thursday at Lowara Mandi, a remote village in northwestern Pakistan, where American soldiers searched several homes for about three hours but returned to Afghanistan when officials rushed there and told them to leave.

Pakistan army spokesman Maj. Gen. Shaukat Sultan told The Associated Press that the military has filed a protest with the coalition forces and received an apology, much like what occurred following a similar incursion May 5. The apology was accepted, Sultan said.

In Washington, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage said any border crossing by American troops would have been accidental.

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