- The Washington Times - Monday, April 10, 2006

COLOMBIA

Vote-fraud claimangers president

BOGOTA — President Alvaro Uribe, who is expected to be re-elected next month, rejected an accusation yesterday that vote fraud boosted his support in the 2002 presidential election.

The government has said the accusation by a former member of the Administrative Security Department (DAS), which was widely reported in the press, was timed to undermine support for Mr. Uribe in the May 28 election. The DAS is Colombia’s equivalent of the FBI.

“Are they going to sow the doubt that I stole the election of 2002?” asked Mr. Uribe, a close Washington ally whose tough policies against Marxist rebels have given him an approval rating of more than 70 percent. A former DAS official, who has been charged with corruption, says 300,000 of the 5.8 million votes cast for Mr. Uribe in 2002 were fraudulent. Mr. Uribe received 2 million more votes than the second-place finisher, Liberal Party candidate Horacio Serpa.

CHILE

Broken plane windowdelays Bachelet visit

SANTIAGO — Chilean President Michelle Bachelet’s official plane had to return to Santiago after takeoff yesterday after a cabin window broke. She was to resume her trip in a few hours, once the window was replaced.

“The plane suffered a broken cabin window five or 10 minutes after takeoff and had to return to the airport in Pudahuel [Santiago] and is at this moment stopped,” a reporter on the plane told Cooperativa Radio.

Mrs. Bachelet, who was sworn in as Chile’s first female president in March, was headed to Paraguay and Brazil for her second official trip abroad. Her first foreign trip was to Argentina.

Weekly notes …

A coalition loyal to former Peruvian President Alberto Fujimori has won about 15 of the 120 seats at stake in the Sunday congressional election, held simultaneously with the presidential race, show returns compiled by the Apoyo research agency. The Alliance for the Future advanced from its pre-election strength of three and is certain to become the fourth-largest party in the single-chamber legislature. The ex-president’s daughter, Keiko Sofia Fujimori, 30, who ran in the Lima constituency on the coalition’s ticket, has secured a seat. … A Canadian priest was excommunicated by the Roman Catholic Church because of his support for the ordination of female clergy, a church spokesman said yesterday. The Rev. Ed Cachia had expressed support in a newspaper last year for nine North American women ordained against the church’s wishes aboard a boat on the St. Lawrence River in Canada, but it was the recent admission to his bishop that he also celebrated Eucharist with female priests in New York and California that made the church cut ties with him.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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