- The Washington Times - Friday, May 11, 2007

TURKEY

Parliament approves election reform

ANKARA — Turkey’s parliament overwhelmingly approved a key constitutional amendment yesterday that would allow the people — rather than legislators — to elect the president.

The Islamic-rooted government pushed for the amendment after opposition legislators boycotted a process to elect a new president over fears that the candidate, chosen by the governing party, might increase the influence of religion in Turkish politics.

Legislators voted 376-1 in favor of the amendment, which also reduces the presidential term from seven years to five, allows the president to run for a second term, sets general elections every four years instead of five, and reduces the number of lawmakers needed for a quorum.

SPAIN

Bombing suspects start hunger strike

MADRID — Four men accused of the train bombings that killed 191 persons in Madrid in 2004 have started a hunger strike to protest what they consider trumped-up charges, one of them said yesterday.

“As of today, we’re on hunger strike because we’ve been charged on the basis of pure guesswork,” read a handwritten note held up by Hassan El Haski and visible to reporters through the Madrid courtroom’s bulletproof glass cubicle for the accused.

El Haski, Rabei Osman el Sayed and Youssef Belhadj have been accused of plotting the attack. Abdelmajid Bouchar is charged with planting explosives.

COLOMBIA

Roadside bomb kills 10 soldiers

BOGOTA — A roadside bomb planted by leftist rebels killed 10 soldiers as they patrolled in southwestern Colombia yesterday, the deadliest attack on security forces this year, authorities said. A similar attack killed nine policemen a day earlier.

The new attack, which also injured 13 soldiers, occurred shortly after midnight yesterday. Military officials blamed Colombia’s largest rebel group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

HAITI

Boat survivors claim abandonment at sea

CAP-HAITIEN — Survivors of a capsizing that killed at least 61 Haitian migrants said a Turks and Caicos patrol boat rammed them, towed them into deeper water and abandoned their overturned vessel.

“Our boat flipped over and they just left us out there,” said Dona Daniel, 23, one of a half-dozen survivors interviewed by the Associated Press yesterday after they were repatriated to Haiti from the nearby British territory.

The survivors said some migrants tried desperately to pull themselves aboard the patrol boat but were beaten back with wooden batons.

EAST TIMOR

Ramos-Horta wins runoff vote

DILI — Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta won an overwhelming majority of votes in East Timor’s presidential runoff, provisional figures showed yesterday.

The election commission said the Nobel prize winner received 73 percent of the votes after 90 percent of ballots in Wednesday’s election had been counted.

PAKISTAN

Section of border fence complete

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan has completed building a fence on a first 12-mile section of its border with Afghanistan, a disputed measure designed to prevent militants from crossing the mountainous frontier, the army said yesterday.

President Pervez Musharraf announced in February that the army would go ahead with the fence amid pressure on Pakistan to do more to stop militants from using its soil as a springboard for attacks in Afghanistan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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