- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 5, 2005

FRANCE

Left-wingers slam mourning for pope

PARIS — As Catholics mourned the death of Pope John Paul II, French left-wingers and a major teaching union criticized the government yesterday for ordering flags on public buildings to be lowered in a sign of respect.

Socialist Sen. Jean-Luc Melenchon and Yves Contassot, a senior Green Party member on the Paris City Council, said the government had abused its powers in ordering the official tribute to the pope, who died Saturday.

ZIMBABWE

Opposition calls for new election

HARARE — Zimbabwe’s opposition demanded a rerun of parliamentary elections yesterday, saying constitutional changes were needed to cut the influence of President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front over electoral bodies.

Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC, said last week’s elections — in which his party suffered a major defeat — were a sham because all electoral institutions were controlled by Mr. Mugabe’s party.

The ruling party rejected the MDC demands as “absolute rubbish.”

AUSTRIA

Haider turns left, forms new party

VIENNA — Joerg Haider and his supporters broke yesterday with the once-powerful populist Freedom Party to form a new movement meant to reflect the former nationalist firebrand’s turn toward the left.

The new party, named Union for the Future of Austria, would avoid “paying homage to ideological idols,” Mr. Haider said, in an allusion to the powerful nationalist wing of the Freedom Party.

The Freedom Party remains the junior partner in the federal government coalition with the centrist People’s Party.

KYRGYZSTAN

Deposed president submits resignation

BISHKEK — Deposed Kyrgyz President Askar Akayev resigned yesterday, allowing the Central Asian state’s new rulers to consolidate their grip on power seized in last month’s coup and prepare for a new election.

The veteran leader formally stepped down in a low-key ceremony at the Kyrgyz Embassy in Moscow, where he had fled after the coup on March 24.

BRAZIL

Police arrested in slum slaughter

RIO DE JANEIRO — Brazilian authorities have arrested 11 police officers in the killing of 30 persons in a shooting rampage on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, the state security chief said yesterday.

The Thursday night slaughter, which is suspected of being a response to a crackdown on corrupt police officers, was the worst massacre in more than a decade in the violent seaside city.

International human rights groups say Rio police have a history of summary executions.

NETHERLANDS

‘Divorce’ rare in gay ‘marriages’

AMSTERDAM — In the first three years after the Netherlands became the first country to legalize homosexual “marriages,” barely 1 percent of them ended in “divorce”, the Dutch statistics office said yesterday.

From 2001 to 2003, 5,751 homosexual couples “married” in the Netherlands, and 63 of them — 41 female and 22 male pairs — “divorced.”

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