- The Washington Times - Friday, December 3, 2004

UZBEKISTAN

European team to monitor elections

TASHKENT — Europe’s largest security organization says it will send an observation team to monitor the upcoming parliamentary elections in Uzbekistan.

The 21-strong team of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe will assess the Dec. 26 election in terms of its compliance with OSCE commitments and international standards, the organization said.

Seats in the Central Asian nation’s rubber-stamp parliament will be contested only by five pro-government parties, because President Islam Karimov outlawed the main opposition parties in the early 1990s.

TAJIKISTAN

Lawmakers introduce life sentence

DUSHANBE — Tajikistan’s lower house of parliament has introduced the life sentence penalty into the country’s criminal code, a parliament lawmaker said.

Since April, when Tajikistan imposed a moratorium on the death penalty, the Central Asian state’s harshest punishment has been 25 years in jail. “The life sentence was introduced because some crimes are too serious and too dangerous for the [existing] maximum penalty,” lawmaker Abdumanon Khalikov said.

Life terms will not be applied to women, minors and men over 63 years of age.

PAKISTAN

Rail link with India to be reopened

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan and India agreed yesterday to reopen a rail link severed nearly 40 years ago, in a further sign of warming relations between the nuclear-armed rivals.

Railway officials of the two countries had agreed to lay railway track to resume train services between the Indian village of Munabao in Rajasthan state and the small town of Khokrapar in southern Pakistan — opening a second rail route between the two countries. The other rail link closed amid rising tensions after Pakistan-based militants attacked India’s Parliament on Dec. 13, 2001. The attack almost led to war.

INDIA

Union Carbide disaster of 1984 remembered

BHOPAL — Twenty years after a cloud of deadly gas ravaged this central Indian city, about 1,500 survivors and their supporters marched to the gates of a former Union Carbide plant yesterday, demanding justice for those still suffering the effects of the world’s worst industrial disaster.

The factory leaked 40 tons of poisonous gas on Dec. 3, 1984, killing at least 10,000 persons and affecting more than 555,000 others. Many died over the years due to gas-related illnesses, like lung cancer, kidney failure and liver disease.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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