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Voting Ends in Sri Lanka Presidential Election


SRI LANKA - ELECTIONS: Sri Lanka has conducted its first peace-time presidential election in decades, after a violence-marred campaign. Voters, including Tamils displaced by the country's civil war, cast ballots Tuesday to extend the tenure of incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa or replace him with his former top military chief, Sarath Fonseka. There were 22 candidates listed on the ballot, but the election centered around Mr. Rajapaksa and Mr. Fonseka who were both touted as war heroes for last year's victory over the Tamil Tiger rebels.

FRANCE - BURQAS: A French parliamentary commission is calling for a partial ban on women wearing the full Islamic veil. The commission Tuesday is recommending a ban on Muslim women wearing burqas in all places of public services, including hospitals, schools, and public transportation. The report does not suggest a full public ban or outlawing the veil in private areas. President Nicolas Sarkozy said earlier this month that Muslim women should not be allowed to wear the veil. Mr. Sarkozy said the burqa was against French values.

AFGHANISTAN: In diplomatic cables published for the first time in full Tuesday, the U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan warned President Barack Obama that Afghan President Hamid Karzai is "not an adequate strategic partner." The full cables, published by The New York Times Tuesday, show Ambassador Karl Eikenberry's reservations about a U.S. troop surge in Afghanistan. Eikenberry warned Mr. Obama that a U.S. troop buildup in Afghanistan would make President Karzai's government too dependent on the United States.

HONG KONG POL: Five Hong Kong legislators resigned Tuesday to protest the slow pace of democratic reform from Beijing. The lawmakers, from the League of Social Democrats and Civic Party, signed their resignation letters, then handed them to the secretary of Hong Kong's Legislative Council. The two opposition parties hope the resignations will force by-elections that would spark a de-facto referendum on winning full democracy in the former British colony. Hong Kong possesses Western-style civil liberties under Chinese rule but only some direct elections.

KOREAS - DEFECTION: News reports in Seoul Tuesday said a North Korean Embassy official in Ethiopia defected to South Korea last year after seeking asylum in its embassy in the African country. YTN television in Seoul and South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the 40-year-old man, identified only as Kim, stormed into the South Korean Embassy in Addis Ababa in October and stayed there for several weeks until he was taken to South Korea. The reports said the defection prompted the North Korean ambassador in Ethiopia to make a protest call to his South Korean counterpart.

IRAQ: Iraqi authorities say a suicide car bomb attack has killed at least 18 people and wounded 80 others in a strike against a police crime lab in central Baghdad. Police say the bomb exploded Tuesday, causing major damage to the government forensics office in the Karrada neighborhood. Officials said many of those killed or wounded in the attack were likely police officers. The blast comes a day after suicide bombers attacked three Baghdad hotels popular with foreigners, killing at least 36 people and wounding 71 others.

VENEZUELA: Authorities in Venezuela say a teenager was shot and killed Monday during a protest over the government's decision to shut down a leading opposition television station. The 15-year-old student was killed late Monday during a demonstration in the western state of Merida, when opponents of President Hugo Chavez clashed with forces allied with the socialist leader. Interior Minister Tareck El Aissami said the student, a Chavez supporter, was among students peaceably expressing their opinions when they were - in his words - "cowardly ambushed."

INDIA - REPUBLIC DAY: India is celebrating its 60th Republic Day under heightened security due to fears of militant attacks. At least 15,000 paramilitary soldiers were deployed in and around the capital of New Delhi Tuesday to ensure safety along the route of the annual Republic Day parade. India celebrates the holiday on January 26 every year, but this year security measures have increased following intelligence reports of possible terror attacks by Islamic militants.

Listen to our World News for details.

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