HONDURAS: Voters in Honduras go to the polls Sunday to vote for a new president
some five months after President Manuel Zelaya was ousted from office. Recent opinion polls indicate conservative candidate Porfirio "Pepe"
Lobo of the opposition National Party is the clear front-runner with a
16-point lead over Elvin Santos of Mr. Zelaya's ruling Liberal Party,
which ousted him in June. Both Mr. Lobo and Mr. Santos support Mr. Zelaya's removal from power, a
move that brought international isolation to the poor Central American
nation. Both candidates also signed a pledge to respect the outcome of the vote
and honor the constitutional ban on running for re-election. Mr. Zelaya
was removed from office after pushing for a referendum to reconsider
the ban. The date for Sunday's election was set before the June coup.
URUGUAY VOTE: Uruguay is voting Sunday in a runoff presidential election to select a new president who will take office in March. The contest is between former guerrilla leader Jose Mujica and former President Luis Alberto Lacalle.
Public opinion poll results released Friday put Mr. Mujica ahead of Mr. Lacalle by about eight percentage points. Mr. Mujica had the most votes in the first round election in October, but not enough to avoid a runoff. Mr. Mujica once led the Tupamaro guerrillas, a group that organized
political killings and bank robberies in the 1960s. He was held in
solitary confinement in prison for years. Mr. Lacalle was Uruguay's president from 1990 to 1995. The winner will replace President Tabare Vazquez, who has successfully guided Uruguay's economy during his five years in office.
RWANDA - COMMONWEALTH: Rwanda has been admitted into the Commonwealth, becoming the 54th
nation to join the group mainly composed of former British colonies. The decision to accept the central African nation into the group was
made late Saturday at a Commonwealth summit in the Caribbean
island-state Trinidad and Tobago. Rwanda applied for membership last
year. Rwandan Information Minister Lousie Mushikiwabo is quoted by the country's New Times
online edition saying Kigali sees the "accession as recognition of the
tremendous progress this country has made in the last 15 years." A former colony of Germany and Belgium, Rwanda is the second country,
after Mozambique, with no British colonial past or constitutional link
to Britain to be admitted into the Commonwealth.
AFGHANISTAN: Officials in Afghanistan say border security guards have killed at
least 26 militants in a gunbattle near the country's border with
Afghan officials say no security guards were killed in Sunday's clash
in Khost province. They say coalition air support backed the guards
during the battle, which lasted several hours. On Saturday, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said Britain will host
an international conference on Afghanistan next year to outline
conditions for handing security responsibilities back to Afghan
authorities. Mr. Brown made the announcement alongside U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon at the Commonwealth summit in Trinidad and Tobago.
IRAN - NUCLEAR: Iran's parliament speaker has warned that Tehran could reduce its
cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency, two days after
the United Nations agency voted to censure Iran over its nuclear
activities. Speaker Ali Larijani said during a parliament session Sunday that Iran
would review its policy of cooperation with the UN nuclear watchdog if
the international community continues to pressure Iran. The IAEA resolution approved Friday criticizes Iran for defying
international demands to freeze uranium enrichment and secretly
building a nuclear facility. The resolution demands Iran stop the
project immediately and disclose any other hidden nuclear activities. China and Russia have close ties with Iran, but voted for the censure
in what was seen as a rare move that further steps up pressure on
Tehran. Iran has denounced the resolution, calling it an intimidation tactic.
NORTH KOREA - REFUGEES: An international group of lawmakers has urged countries to better protect and support North Korean defectors. Representatives from 12 mostly Asian countries met Saturday in the Thai
city of Chiang Mai to raise attention to the plight of North Korean
refugees. The group adopted a statement demanding that China stop forcibly
repatriating refugees to North Korea, where they could face execution,
and instead offer them protection as refugees. A Japanese lawmaker at the meetingsays China has a deal with Pyongyang to repatriate all North Korean defectors. Lawmakers also praised Thailand's efforts to not send refugees back to
North Korea and instead allow them to go to South Korea or another country. Many North Korean refugees hide in China but others travel to Thailand,
a key transit route for those making their way to South Korea.
CHINA - EU: Senior European economic policy makers said Sunday that a gradual rise
in the Chinese yuan against all major floating currencies is in the
interest of both China and the world economy. After a meeting in the eastern Chinese city of Nanjing with Chinese
Premier Wen Jiabao, Jean-Claude Trichet, head of the European Central
Bank, told reporters that officials advised China to take a more
flexible monetary policy. China says it needs a stable exchange rate against the dollar to
support its economic recovery. But Europe accuses Beijing of having an
unfair advantage in world markets.
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