- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 30, 2007

NIGERIA

Obasanjo choice becomes president

ABUJA — A reclusive former governor hand-picked by departing President Olusegun Obasanjo was sworn in as Nigeria’s new leader yesterday in the first transfer of power from one elected government to another in Africa’s most populous country.

Umaru Yar’Adua, 56, took the oath of office before Chief Justice Idris Kutigi, pledging to uphold Nigeria’s unity and pursue its best interests.

He was elected in an April vote that the opposition has denounced as fraudulent and international observers have said was not credible.

MEXICO

Miss USA booed by audiences

MEXICO CITY — Many here south of the border reveled in her disastrous evening: First Miss USA Rachel Smith slipped and fell on her bottom during the Miss Universe evening gown competition. Then she was booed by hundreds in the Mexican audience.

Miss Smith was booed repeatedly during her stay in Mexico, including last week, when she carried a guitar and wore an Elvis Presley-style suit during a parade of national costumes in downtown Mexico City.

She kept her poise during an interview with pageant judges, despite the boos and chants of “Mexico, Mexico” that drowned out her answer.

MEXICO

High court sets abortion review

MEXICO CITY — Mexico’s Supreme Court will consider the constitutionality of a new law that legalizes abortion in Mexico City, the court said yesterday.

Last month, Mexico City lawmakers made abortion legal in the capital during the first 12 weeks of a woman’s pregnancy, sparking street demonstrations both for and against the new law.

The law, which has been criticized by Pope Benedict XVI and other religious figures, is one of the first to legalize abortion in predominantly Catholic Latin America.

In its statement, the court said it accepted a challenge to the law by Mexico’s top human rights official, Jose Luis Soberanes, who argued that it violates Mexico’s constitution.

PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES

Donor funds begin reaching government

JERUSALEM — With U.S. backing, donor funds have started flowing into an account controlled by Palestinian Finance Minister Salam Fayyad to pay partial government salaries, Palestinian and Western officials said yesterday.

Mr. Fayyad was expected to receive enough money through the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) account to pay government workers, including members of the security forces, at least half of their normal monthly wages later this week.

The Palestinian Authority has been under a crippling Western aid embargo since March 2006.

RUSSIA

Beslan families ransack courtroom

BESLAN — Women who lost relatives in Russia’s Beslan school siege ransacked a courtroom yesterday as the judge granted an amnesty to three local policemen accused of failing to stop gunmen from seizing the school.

The policemen are the only officials to stand trial for the 2004 massacre in southern Russia in which 331 persons — half of them children — were killed. Some survivors accuse the authorities of a cover-up.

A group of about 25 women smashed courtroom windows, overturned furniture and tore down blinds and a Russian flag.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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