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Pakistan May Delay National Election


Pakistan: Pakistan's government says a national election due in January may be rescheduled.
Minister of State for Information Tariq Azim Khan told reporters today (Sunday) that there might be an adjustment in the dates of the election because of the imposition of emergency rule Saturday.
Pakistani police have been rounding up hundreds of opposition members including the acting president of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif's party.
The detention of Javed Hashmi in the central city of Multan followed President Pervez Musharraf's suspension of Pakistan's constitution and removal of the nation's top judge.
Saturday troops entered the Supreme Court in Islamabad and took away the chief justice (Iftikhar Chaudhry), whose suspension earlier this year triggered nationwide protests. The court had been scheduled to rule in a few days on the validity of General Musharraf's re-election as president last month (by Parliament).

Pakistan – Bhutto: Former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto has condemned the imposition of emergency rule by President Pervez Musharraf Saturday as a move toward "greater dictatorship".
Mrs. Bhutto described the state of emergency as martial law, because General Musharraf declared it as chief of the army. She vowed that her party will not accept the situation and will protest against it.
Mrs. Bhutto said she also believes the emergency rule is designed to delay parliamentary elections scheduled for early next year. She said she plans to meet with other political leaders to discuss a strategy for reversing General Musharraf's suspension of the constitution.
The twice-serving prime minister told Britain's Sky News television she agrees with the president that Pakistan is in crisis, due to political turmoil and violence by Islamic militants. She said, however, the emergency declaration means Pakistan is "going backwards, toward greater dictatorship."

Turkey – Iraq: Turkey's army says Kurdish rebels in northern Iraq have released eight Turkish soldiers kidnapped in Turkey two weeks ago.
Rebels of the separatist Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PPK, handed over the soldiers to senior officials from Iraq's northern regional government today (Sunday). The rebels had kidnapped the soldiers in Turkish territory near the Iraqi border.
The release came one day after Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said his government is taking "serious measures" against Kurdish rebels who are responsible for launching attacks in neighboring Turkey.
In remarks to a major international meeting on Iraq in Istanbul Saturday, Mr. Maliki said Iraq should not be a base for attacks against its neighbors.
Turkey has been pressing Iraq to crack down on PKK rebels, based in northern Iraq.

Chad – France: French President Nicolas Sarkozy is expected in Chad today (Sunday) to address the detention of at least 16 Europeans accused of attempting to illegally fly 103 children out of Africa.
A statement from France's presidential palace says Mr. Sarkozy will meet with Chadian President Idriss Deby in the capital, N'Djamena to discuss the fate of the Europeans.
There are reports that three French journalists and four Spanish airline crew members who were among those arrested late last month (in the eastern town of Abeche) will be released and allowed to leave Chad with Mr. Sarkozy.
The journalists were with a group of workers from the French charity, Zoe's Ark, when the group was detained.
The charity workers have said the children were orphans, describing their work as humanitarian. However, a joint report by three international aid agencies says most of the children have families.

Burma: United Nations envoy Ibrahim Gambari has met with senior Burmese officials as part of his bid to reconcile the military government and pro-democracy forces.
Burmese officials say Gambari met today (Sunday) with Labor Minister Aung Kyi in Burma's isolated capital of Naypyidaw. The Burmese government has appointed Aung Kyi as liaison to detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi.
On Saturday, Gambari met in Rangoon with U.N. development coordinator Charles Petrie, whom the Burmese government has ordered to leave the country.
Burma's military leaders said they ordered Petrie's expulsion because of his comments about the dire state of economic and humanitarian affairs in Burma. U.N. officials say Gambari conveyed Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon's support for Petrie and his work.
This is Gambari's second trip to Burma since September, when the military cracked down on pro-democracy demonstrators led by Buddhist monks.

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