SOUTH AFRICAN - ELECTION: Early results from South Africa's general elections give the ruling
African National Congress party a solid lead, as expected. If
confirmed, these results will lead controversial but popular party
leader Jacob Zuma to the presidency.
With just over a tenth of ballots counted, the ANC party had around 63
percent of the vote. The newly formed Congress of the People, or COPE,
which splintered from the ANC last year, trailed well behind with about
Preliminary results show the strongest opposition support went to the
Democratic Alliance, with 20 percent overall and a strong lead in the
Western Cape Province.
SRI LANKA: Sri Lanka's military says it is involved in the world's largest rescue
operation as it tries to free civilians trapped in the battle with
Tamil Tiger rebels.
The Defense Ministry said Thursday that more than 100,000 civilians had
escaped the war zone since the beginning of the week. The government
says major efforts are underway to provide shelter and medical care for
There are still concerns for the civilians that remain stuck in the
shrinking war zone as the military continues what it hopes is its final
assault on the rebels. The army says the rebels are confined to an area
in the country's northeast that is just 13 square kilometers in size.
INDIA - LECTIONS: Indians are voting Thursday in the second of five stages in the world's
largest parliamentary election, as communist rebels continue with their
campaign of violence.
Millions of voters are casting ballots in the eastern states of
Jharkhand and Bihar, along with a host of other states across the
country. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh joined voters (the city of Gauhati) in Assam state to cast his own ballot.
The two main parties -- the ruling Congress Party and the nationalist
Bharatiya Janata Party -- are not expected to win enough of the 543
seats in the lower house of parliament to govern without forming a
JAPAN - SOMALIA - PIRACY: Japanese lawmakers have approved a bill to expand the country's anti-piracy naval mission off the coast of Somalia.
The measure would allow Japanese ships to escort foreign vessels
through the Gulf of Aden. It would also widen the rules of engagement
to allow the ships to open fire on pirate boats.
Two Japanese destroyers were dispatched to the region last month, but
are restricted to escorting Japanese owned or operated ships, or ships
carrying Japanese goods.
The bill, which passed Thursday in the lower House of Representatives,
is expected to be rejected by the legislature's opposition-controlled
KOREAS - TENSIONS: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says he does not expect any
immediate breakthroughs in the latest standoff with North Korea over
its nuclear program.
Russian news agencies say Lavrov made the remarks shortly after his
meeting Thursday in Pyongyang with his North Korean counterpart, Pak
Ui-chun. Despite the impasse, Lavrov urged all parties in the
six-nation nuclear disarmament talks not to give into emotions.
The Russian diplomat is in Pyongyang for two days of talks. His visit
comes nearly three weeks after North Korea launched a rocket the U.S.
and other nations say was a long-range ballistic missile.
CHINA - NAVY: China paraded its warships and nuclear submarines Thursday in a display
of its naval might marking the 60th anniversary of the establishment of
Chinese President Hu Jintao oversaw the multinational parade - the
fourth to take place since 1949 - that included military ships from 14
Twenty five Chinese naval vessels and 31 aircraft participated in the
parade. China also displayed two nuclear submarines for the first time
China operates more submarines than any other Asian nation, with up to 10 nuclear powered subs.
THAILAND POLITICS: Thailand's prime minister says he hopes the state of emergency imposed about a week-and-a-half ago can be lifted soon.
Abhisit Vejjajiva commented Wednesday during the first day of a two-day
special joint session of parliament called to address the country's
recent political unrest.
During the session, opposition lawmakers accused Mr. Abhisit of
inflaming the unrest by imposing the state of emergency in Bangkok. The
decree limits news reporting and gives the government the authority to
call up troops to suppress unrest.
CAMBODIA - KHMER ROUGE: A former Khmer Rouge jailer says Pol Pot's lies prompted him to confess
to his role in the prison where more than 12,000 people were tortured
before being sent to their deaths.
The former prison chief, known as Duch, told Cambodia's genocide
tribunal Wednesday that he finally spoke out about the Tuol Sleng
prison because he could not bear the former Khmer Rouge leader's claim
that it never existed.
Duch, whose real name is Kaing Guek Eav, said it was Pol Pot's idea to set up Tuol Sleng, or S-21.
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