UKRAINE POL: Ukrainian Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko has asked to withdraw a complaint over her rival's presidential election victory.
The unexpected request Saturday comes one day after the prime minister
urged a court in Kyiv to examine carefully all the evidence regarding
Ukraine's runoff presidential election, which she said was rigged.
The court had been hearing the prime minister's appeal to block the
inauguration next Thursday of her rival, Viktor Yanukovych. Earlier
this week, the court put the results of this month's election on hold
until it rules.
NETHERLANDS POL: The prime minister of the Netherlands says the Dutch coalition
government collapsed Saturday, when the two largest parties failed to
agree on the withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan this year.
Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende told reporters in the early hours
of Saturday that the second-largest party in his coalition is quitting
the government over irreconcilable differences on whether to extend the
Netherlands' military mission in Afghanistan.
Mr. Balkenende's center-right Christian Democrats, the bigger partner
in the coalition, proposed the idea of keeping a reduced force in place
for a year past the August 2010 deadline.
PAKISTAN: Pakistan's military says it has killed 30 militants in an air strike on a Taliban hideout near the Afghan border. The military said (in a statement) the rebel hideout in the Shawal mountains was targeted Saturday after authorities received a tip that insurgents were hiding there. Shawal is in South Waziristan, a restive tribal area bordering Afghanistan, where the military in October launched an air and ground offensive to flush out Taliban militants In another development Saturday, suicide bombers have attacked two police stations in northwest Pakistan.
SUDAN - REBELS: A major Sudanese rebel group in Darfur says it is ready to agree to a temporary cease-fire with the government.
A spokesman from the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM)
said Saturday discussions with the government in the capital of
neighboring Chad had resulted in a framework for future negotiations.
The spokesman, Ahmed Hussein, said those issues included "wealth sharing" for Darfuris.
Hussein said the details of a final peace plan would be worked out in direct negotiations with the Sudanese government.
NIGER: Hundreds, if not thousands of Nigerians have taken to the streets of
the capital, Niamey, Saturday in support of the military junta who
seized power in a coup this week.
Demonstrators were also out on the streets Friday showing their support
for the coup that ousted the increasingly unpopular president, Mamadou
The demonstration of support comes as condemnations pour in from the international community.
On Friday, the African Union suspended Niger and demanded a return to constitutional order.
The European Union, and former colonial ruler France, the United
Nations and South Africa have all called on the junta to restore
MOROCCO COLLAPSE: Officials in northern Morocco say at least 38 people have been killed
after the minaret of a historic mosque collapsed during Friday prayers.
More than 70 others were injured in the incident, which took place as
worshippers packed the Bab Berdieyinne Mosque in the historic city of
Meknes, some 130 kilometers from Rabat.
Authorities blame the minaret's collapse on heavy rainfall over the last few days.
Most of the injured worshipers have been released after hospital treatment, but about 20 are still under medical care.
OBAMA - HEALTH CARE: U.S. President Barack Obama is trying again to get a health care reform
plan through Congress, after his ambitious plans were abandoned early
In his weekly (radio and Internet) address, Mr. Obama
calls on members of both political parties to come together in "good
faith" at a special meeting to take place next week to discuss the
He said the meeting will test not just whether the government can solve this one problem, but any problem.
Republicans are already expressing doubts about the process.
OLYMPICS: A British slider has won the first Winter Olympics individual gold medal for her country in 30 years in a controversial run that sparked protest from the American team. Amy Williams finished four runs at the Whistler Sliding Center in the women's skeleton event in a combined time of three minutes, 35.64 seconds. But the American team lodged a protest against Williams' safety helmet, saying it included illegal aerodynamic features. The protest was denied, and in a statement the bobsleigh federation said they examined the helmet and it did not break any rules.
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