- The Washington Times - Friday, May 6, 2005

NEPAL

Ousted prime minister accused of theft

KATMANDU — Nepal’s anti-graft commission charged former Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba on Thursday with misappropriation of government funds while in office, a commission spokesman said.

“The commission has found out that Mr. Deuba misappropriated the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund while in office,” said spokesman Prem Raj Karki. “He also refused to testify and pay bail money of [$54,842],” Mr. Karki said, without indicating what action might be taken against Mr. Deuba, who was arrested last week.

The coalition government was dismissed by King Gyanendra when the monarch seized power Feb. 1, drawing international condemnation. Mr. Deuba refused to testify before the commission, accusing it of waging a vendetta against politicians opposing the royal takeover.

SRI LANKA

President pledges cooperation on aid

COLOMBO — President Chandrika Kumaratunga has pledged to cooperate with Tamil Tiger rebels to distribute tsunami aid, even at the risk of bringing down her government.

Mrs. Kumaratunga said she would press for a joint mechanism to handle aid, although coalition hard-liners who oppose talks with the rebels threatened to resign if such a mechanism is formed, the British Broadcasting Corp. reported this week.

Sri Lanka received $2 billion in aid pledges following the Dec. 26 tsunami that killed more than 30,000 Sri Lankans and left a million homeless, but an agreement on distributing the money has not yet been reached.

Areas in the north and east of the country, where Tamils make up the majority of the population, were among the hardest hit by the tsunami. The United States has invited contractors to bid on $35 million worth of construction projects it is funding in Sri Lankan coastal regions, the U.S. Embassy announced Thursday.

UZBEKISTAN

Karimov pulls out of ex-Soviet club

CHISINAU, Moldova — Uzbek President Islam Karimov is withdrawing his country from an alliance of five former Soviet republics in Central Asia, complaining the entity has become too political, the group’s chairman announced Thursday.

Mr. Karimov, who was Uzbekistan’s last Soviet-era leader and has clung to power ever since, announced his decision in a letter to Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin, current chairman of the GUUAM group — Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and Moldova.

In his letter, Mr. Karimov blamed “changes in the originally stated purposes and tasks” of the group, Russia’s ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Weekly notes

Bangladeshi Prime Minister Khaleda Zia promised financial and other assistance this week to a woman who offered to sell one of her eyes for money. Abandoned by her husband, Shefali Begum, 26 and mother of a newborn girl, offered an eye for cash in a newspaper ad last month, drawing attention and offers of help from all over the world. …

A Tajik opposition party called on the international community this week to help free its leader, Makmadruzi Iskandarov, who is imprisoned in the Tajik capital after reputedly being kidnapped near Moscow. The Tajikistan Democratic Party has appealed to the United Nations, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the European Union, as well as Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and the embassies of the United States, Britain and France, party spokesman Rokhmatoullo Valiev told reporters.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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