- The Washington Times - Friday, April 1, 2005

ETHIOPIA

Three democracy groups expelled ahead of vote

ADDIS ABABA — Ethiopia said yesterday that it is expelling three U.S.-funded pro-democracy groups ahead of upcoming general elections because they were operating illegally in the country.

The Foreign Ministry said it had taken the action against the National Democratic Institute, the International Republican Institute and IFES, formerly the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, because they had not registered with proper authorities.

?They came to this country with visitor’s visas and opened their offices without authorization,? said spokesman Solomon Abebe Tassema. ?This is illegal in any other country. They are not registered.?

SOUTH KOREA

Japan’s bid for seat in council denounced

SEOUL — South Korea has decided to work to block Japan’s bid to win permanent membership in the U.N. Security Council, the country’s envoy to the United Nations said yesterday, according to a Yonhap News Agency dispatch from New York.

Ambassador Kim Sam Hoon said Japan’s leadership would be ?limited? because it lacks the confidence of neighboring countries, according to the report.

The comments by Mr. Kim clarify for the first time South Korea’s opposition to Japan’s becoming a permanent member of the council.

ISRAEL

Court ruling dents Orthodox monopoly

JERUSALEM — The Supreme Court yesterday granted recognition to non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism partly performed in Israel, capping a six-year legal battle with a sharp blow to the country’s Orthodox monopoly over religious affairs.

The decision drew harsh condemnation from the rabbinical establishment but praise from the Reform and Conservative movements.

Under the current practice, Israel recognizes only conversions performed by Orthodox rabbis inside Israel, although people converted by non-Orthodox rabbis outside the country are eligible for citizenship.

Yesterday’s case was brought in 1999 by 17 foreigners who studied for their conversions in Israel, then traveled abroad for the ceremonies to try to get around the limitations.

ZIMBABWE

Parliamentary vote largely peaceful

HARARE — Zimbabweans voted yesterday in peaceful elections that President Robert Mugabe proclaimed were as fair as any in the world but that the United States said were conducted in ?an atmosphere of intimidation.?

Officials and an independent monitoring body said tens of thousands of voters were turned away from polling stations across the country for a variety of reasons.

Foreign critics led by the United States and the European Union dismissed yesterday’s parliamentary vote as a sham.

?Generally, we’d say that the campaigning took place in an atmosphere of intimidation,? State Department spokesman Richard Boucher told reporters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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