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Lawmakers choose rights activist as first president

TUNIS — Tunisia’s new assembly Monday chose a veteran human rights activist as the first democratically elected president of the country that sparked the Arab Spring.

Moncef Marzouki of the Congress for the Republic Party won 153 out of 217 votes in the legislative assembly. He ran unopposed after the opposition declined to put forward a candidate and nine others failed to meet the criteria.

Tunisians overthrew their long-ruling dictator in January and elected an assembly in October to write the new constitution and form an interim government.

Mr. Marzouki is expected to appoint a prime minister from the moderate Islamist Ennahda party, which was once brutally repressed but now holds the most seats in the assembly.

IRAN

Jobless man throws shoes at president

TEHRAN — Laid-off workers complaining about unpaid wages disrupted a speech by Iran’s president Monday by shouting and throwing objects, including a pair of shoes, news websites and a news agency reported.

One dispatch said a man threw a pair of shoes at President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Throwing shoes at someone is considered a gesture of disdain in the Muslim world.

The disruption was first reported by a little-known website, GhasedNews.ir. That report was picked up by the mainstream Mehr news agency and the website of the Tehran Times newspaper.

GhasedNews.ir said Ahmadinejad supporters attacked the man who threw the shoes. He had to be rescued by security personnel.

Other websites, including the hard-line outlet KhabarOnline.ir, said only unspecified “objects” were thrown by disgruntled former textile workers in the northern city of Sari. They demanded a year of unpaid back pay.

VATICAN CITY

Pope confirms trip to Cuba, Mexico before Easter

Pope Benedict XVI plans to travel to Cuba and Mexico before Easter next year, saying he hopes his visit will strengthen the faith and encourage Catholics there to seek justice and hope.

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