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Musharraf: Parliamentary Elections Should Be Before January 9


Pakistan: Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says parliamentary elections should be held before January ninth, but adds that he cannot give a date for the lifting of emergency rule.
General Musharraf said today (Sunday), Pakistan's national and provincial assemblies will be dissolved in the coming days (November 15th and 20th).
He also vowed to take the oath of office as a civilian president and hang up his military uniform. But he said he cannot do so until the courts finish hearing challenges to his recent re-election.
General Musharraf has fired many of the country's judges and accused ousted chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry of corruption.
General Musharraf said declaring emergency rule one week ago was the most difficult decision he has ever made. But he said emergency rule will ensure elections can be free and fair.
Hours earlier, General Musharraf gave army courts the power to try civilians on a wide range of charges.
Meanwhile, former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto is expected in Lahore today (Sunday) ahead of Tuesday's planned protest march from the city to Islamabad.

Burma: United Nations special envoy on human rights in Burma, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, has arrived in the country at the invitation of the military government.
The diplomat is on a mission to investigate alleged human rights abuses during September's crackdown on democracy protests.
The U.N. diplomat has been barred from visiting Burma since 2003.
Pinheiro's visit is expected to last through Thursday. However, after receiving initial permission for the visit last month, he said if Burmese officials do not give him full cooperation, he will immediately leave the country.
Last Tuesday, the government rejected visiting U.N. special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's call for U.N.-brokered talks with opposition groups.

Georgia: Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili has rejected calls by Western governments to immediately end the state of emergency in the country.
President Saakashvili said in televised remarks Saturday that the state of emergency will remain in place until the country is secure. He imposed the state of emergency Wednesday, following violent clashes between police and anti-government protesters in Tbilisi.
By law, the measure could last as long as 15 days. It curtails citizens' freedom to demonstrate and media outlets' freedom to broadcast news.
U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (for European and Eurasian Affairs) Matthew Bryza was in Tbilisi Saturday to press for an immediate lifting of the emergency status.

Russian Tanker: A Russian tanker has broken in two and spilled more than a thousand tons of fuel oil in the Kerch Strait between the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.
Thirteen crew members of the Volganeft-139 are trapped on the stern portion of the ship.
Russian officials say the oil spill is an environmental disaster made worse by high winds that are pushing the heavy oil toward the Ukrainian coast, only a few kilometers away.
Several tugboats from Russia and Ukraine are helping with rescue and containment efforts, but the continuing storm is making their task difficult.

Afghanistan – Violence: Afghan officials say a suicide bomber wounded at least three civilians in southern Afghanistan today (Sunday) when he set off his explosives near a convoy of foreign troops.
They say the blast occurred near the town of Gereshk in Helmand province.
Also today (Sunday), the U.S.-led coalition said a soldier with the force died of wounds suffered during a battle Saturday in Kapisa province.
Separately, the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) said six NATO soldiers and three Afghan troops were killed in an ambush Friday. It was the heaviest loss suffered by the force in eastern Afghanistan in recent months
ISAF said another eight NATO soldiers and 11 Afghan troops were wounded in the fighting in Nuristan province.

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