- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 18, 2007

VENEZUELA

Chavez seeks socialist trade bloc

RIO DE JANEIRO — South American leaders hope to strengthen the underachieving Mercosur trade bloc in a summit that began yesterday, but they face pressure from the socialist crusade of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

Mr. Chavez, who last week announced plans to nationalize key industries, is set to pursue his leftist agenda at a regional level and will back Bolivia’s bid to join the five-nation Mercosur as a full member. Leftist Ecuador also is seeking membership.

GERMANY

Snooping scandal sidelines Stoiber

MUNICH — Bavarian state Gov. Edmund Stoiber, a thorn in the side of Chancellor Angela Merkel, said yesterday that he would step down in September, bowing to pressure after a snooping scandal that hit his popularity.

Mr. Stoiber, who had wanted to stay on as head of the rich southern German state until 2013, said he would not run in Bavaria’s 2008 election.

He also would stand down as head of the conservative Christian Social Union, which shares power on a national level with Mrs. Merkel’s Christian Democrats, in September.

UGANDA

Former rebel leader dies a refugee

GARISSA, Kenya — A former Ugandan rebel leader and self-declared prophetess whose movement gave rise to Joseph Kony’s Lord’s Resistance Army has died in a refugee camp in Kenya, officials said yesterday.

The cause of death of Alice Lakwena, who was in her 50s and lived in exile in northern Kenya’s remote Ifo camp, was unknown.

She fled to Kenya in 1987. Her nephew, Kony, has terrorized Uganda since then by kidnapping children to serve as soldiers and concubines.

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

High-rise blaze halts construction

DUBAI — A high-rise apartment building under construction caught fire yesterday, injuring up to 25 workers and trapping others in thick smoke as rescue crews scrambled to reach them.

Two witnesses said they saw a man fall from one of the 37-story building’s upper floors, but police and fire officials refused to comment. Hospital officials said three laborers were in serious condition.

“It was kind of like 9/11,” said Steven Wullinger, 35, a German who saw the falling man.

BRITAIN

Gale blows death, destruction

LONDON — At least 25 persons were killed yesterday as gale-force winds lashed northern Europe, with helicopters forced to pluck stranded sailors from the storm-tossed English Channel.

Britain was the worst hit as winds gusted up to 99 mph.

The weather forced Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s jet to circle above London for 15 minutes before landing.

NETHERLANDS

Imams feel shunned, flee the country

AMSTERDAM — Muslim prayer leaders are leaving the Netherlands because they no longer feel welcome, increasing the risk that radicals could fill the void, a Muslim leader said in an interview published yesterday.

Mohamed Ousalah, the vice president of the Dutch Association of Imams, was quoted in the De Telegraaf newspaper saying that 180 of 450 mosques in the Netherlands no longer had an imam because foreign-born imams were leaving the country.

Mr. Ousalah blamed the departure on an intolerant atmosphere toward Muslims since the September 11 attacks in the United States and tougher immigration controls by the Dutch government.

BURMA

Suu Kyi accused of tax evasion

RANGOON — State news reports yesterday accused pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi of evading taxes by spending her money from the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize and other awards overseas.

Mrs. Suu Kyi, the country’s opposition leader, has been in prison or under house arrest for 11 of the past 17 years.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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