- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 11, 2005

EGYPT

5th presidential term sought for Mubarak

CAIRO — The ruling National Democratic Party announced yesterday that it will seek a fifth mandate in May for President Hosni Mubarak, 76, who has been in power 23 years.

“The NDP will have the honor of presenting [Mr. Mubarak] for a new term in office because he is capable of devoting himself to the people … and Egypt still needs him,” said Kamal al-Shazli, assistant secretary-general, at the start of a training session for young party members.

The Egyptian parliament will meet in May to elect a candidate for the presidency, who must be validated in a referendum, to be held in September. Mr. Mubarak is ending his fourth term in office. In a rare sign of dissent, about 300 people demonstrated in Cairo last month against a fifth term.

Saad Eddin Ibrahim, an Egyptian-American sociologist and human rights activist, announced last week that he will run for president, and feminist author Nawal Saadawi has announced similar plans.

TURKEY

Abizaid puts off dealing with guerrillas

ANKARA — The United States told NATO ally Turkey yesterday that it recognizes rebel Kurdish Turks hiding in northern Iraq need to be “dealt with,” but that it is not ready to act against the group.

Turkey has long complained that U.S. troops in neighboring Iraq are failing to honor pledges to tackle about 5,000 guerrillas of the banned Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), also called Kongra-Gel.

“We, like Turkey, view the PKK as a terrorist organization,” Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, said in Ankara. The Bush administration says its forces are stretched too thin in Iraq and lack the resources to track down PKK rebels in the country’s relatively quiet, mainly Kurdish north.

LEBANON

RSF chief visits banned TV station

BEIRUT — The head of Paris-based Reporters Without Borders arrived here yesterday for a solidarity visit to the television channel of the Shi’ite militant group Hezbollah after it was banned from broadcasting from France.

“We oppose banning any media outlet; we favor dialogue,” RSF Secretary-General Robert Menard told the daily As-Safir in an interview to appear today.

“Outright closure is never the right method,” said Mr. Menard, adding that he nonetheless opposes anti-Israel broadcasts like those that prompted the French ban.

France’s highest administrative court last month forced Paris-based satellite carrier Eutelsat to stop carrying Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV station after ruling that it had aired unacceptable views. Al-Manar’s management has said it erred.

Weekly notes

Work will begin in July on a 470-mile pipeline to carry Algerian gas under the Mediterranean Sea to southern Spain, Algeria’s energy minister said yesterday. Starting in 2007, the pipeline to be built by the Medgaz consortium will deliver more than 5 billion cubic yards of natural gas per year to European markets, earning about $500 million annually for Algeria. … Iran denied yesterday that it executes criminals younger than 18 or stones people to death, dismissing as foreign propaganda assertions that those punishments continue. Such charges are “aimed at distorting the image of the Islamic republic,” judiciary spokesman Jamal Karimi-Rad told reporters. No sentence of stoning has been carried out in Iran since the end of 2002, after a direct order by the judiciary’s head, under pressure from the European Union. In a recent case, the stoning verdict for an Iranian woman identified as Hajieh Esmailvand, convicted of murdering her husband, was stayed pending a decision by the pardons commission.

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