- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 7, 2006

VENEZUELA

Chavez proposes vote on next 25 years

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez said yesterday that Venezuelan voters should have the chance to decide whether he should govern the country for the next 25 years.

Speaking at a stadium packed with supporters in central Lara state, Mr. Chavez said he would hold a referendum to put the question of his remaining in office to Venezuelans if the opposition pulls out of Dec. 3 presidential elections.

Mr. Chavez said Friday that he might seek “indefinite” re-election through a referendum if the opposition boycotts the presidential vote.

The Venezuelan Constitution allows a president to be re-elected only once in immediate succession. Mr. Chavez is eligible for re-election to another six-year term in December, but if he wins he would not be able to run again in 2012.

SUDAN

U.N. peacekeepers welcomed in Darfur

ABUJA, Nigeria — Sudan’s government said yesterday that its peace accord with Darfur’s main insurgent group allows it to welcome U.N. peacekeepers to the troubled region, as mediators worked to persuade the rest of the fractured rebel movement to join the process.

The peace agreement, reached Friday in Abuja with one branch of the Sudan Liberation Army after two years of sporadic negotiations, aims to end ethnic bloodshed that has killed an estimated 180,000 people in three years and left about 2 million displaced.

The suggestion that it could pave the way for a deployment of U.N. peacekeepers overturns previous rejections by Khartoum, which so far has allowed only African Union peacekeepers on the ground.

The underfunded African forces have largely been ineffective in stopping atrocities and re-establishing security, leaving tens of thousands of refugees in camps with little food or water.

SINGAPORE

Ruling party retains majority

SINGAPORE — Singapore’s ruling party won a majority in parliamentary elections yesterday, signaling continuity in the city-state’s mix of economic success, social stability and tight political controls.

Final results showed Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s People’s Action Party winning 82 of 84 seats in Parliament, including 37 seats it captured automatically before the election because the opposition did not contest them.

The ruling party has won every general election since Singapore became independent in 1965.

GAZA STRIP

Palestinian workers demand salaries

GAZA CITY — Hundreds of Palestinians staged strikes and demonstrations yesterday in the West Bank and Gaza Strip to demand payment of overdue salaries to government workers — the first public signs of discontent with the Hamas-led Cabinet’s handling of the financial crisis.

Later Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas met with moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Gaza. They failed to resolve their differences but agreed to meet again today.

CROATIA

Cheney meets with Croatian leaders

DUBROVNIK — Vice President Dick Cheney met with Croatian leaders yesterday and went sightseeing with his wife in a picturesque city by the Adriatic Sea on the final stop of a three-nation trip overseas.

Standing next to Prime Minister Ivo Sanader, Mr. Cheney said the United States is “strongly supportive of Croatia becoming a full member of the trans-Atlantic community, in terms of working with NATO and the [European Union].”

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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