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Archive for Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Briefly

March 30, 2005

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Vatican City

Pope may have feeding tube inserted

Pope John Paul II may have to return to the hospital to have a feeding tube inserted because he is having difficulty swallowing, an Italian news agency reported Tuesday.

The APcom news agency said no decision had been taken and the feeding tube was one option being considered to help the 84-year-old pope get better nutrition and regain his strength.

Calls to the Vatican spokesman went unanswered late Tuesday.

John Paul has been having trouble swallowing since a tracheotomy tube was inserted in his throat Feb. 24 to help him breathe. He was admitted to the hospital twice in February because of breathing crises.

If performed, the pope would be receiving nutrition the same way Terri Schiavo did before her feeding tube was removed.

The Vatican last week strongly condemned a decision by a U.S. judge not to order the reinsertion of Schiavo's feeding tube after it was removed on orders from another judge. The Vatican said the decision was akin to capital punishment for someone who had committed no crime. Schiavo's tube was removed March 18.

Kyrgyzstan

Ousted president prepared to step down

Ousted President Askar Akayev surfaced in Russia after fleeing this Central Asian nation and said Tuesday he would resign if given legal protections -- the first sign he is willing to yield power.

Akayev, who fled after protesters seized government headquarters last week, also accused his foes of plotting his overthrow for months. Interim leader Kurmanbek Bakiyev said the storming of the government headquarters was never planned, and he called for an official inquiry.

In an interview with Russia's state-run Channel One television, Akayev emphasized he is Kyrgyzstan's legitimate leader and suggested he would keep a hand in its fragile politics.

Asked whether he was prepared to step down, Akayev replied: "Of course, of course -- if I am given the relevant guarantees and if it is in full accordance with the current legislation."

Lebanon

Pro-Syrian leader to resign again

Lebanon's pro-Syrian prime minister said Tuesday he would resign, unable to put together a government, and the head of military intelligence stepped aside in new signs the anti-Syrian opposition was gaining momentum in the country's political turmoil.

Prime Minister Omar Karami's decision comes amid a deadlock over forming the government, which must be completed before parliamentary elections can be held.

Elections are scheduled for April and May, and the opposition -- which is expected to win them -- is eager to see them held on time.

Lebanon has been in political crisis since the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. His death in a bomb blast -- which the opposition blamed on Syria and its Lebanese government allies -- prompted giant street protests that forced the government at the time, led by Karami, to resign on Feb. 28.

In a slap to the opposition, pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud brought Karami back as a caretaker prime minister to form a new government on March 10.

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