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HAITI

Government’s candidate out of presidential election

PORT-AU-PRINCE | Officials dropped the government-backed candidate from a presidential runoff on Thursday, ending a standoff with the United States and other foreign powers over a first round of voting marred by fraud and disorganization.

The electoral commission said the March 20 runoff will match former first lady Mirlande Manigat against Michel Martelly, a carnival singer known as “Sweet Micky.” The announcement, made after dawn following more than 13 hours of deliberations, means Jude Celestin is out of the race.

The decision is expected to head off a repeat of rioting in December after the commission announced that Mr. Celestin had edged Mr. Martelly for a place in the runoff according to the preliminary results of the Nov. 28 vote.

RUSSIA

Airport bomber’s kin suspected in deadly blast

MOSCOW | Russia’s top security official said Thursday that several people with information on last month’s suicide bombing at the country’s biggest airport have been detained and that the bomber was under the influence of mind-altering drugs.

Alexander Bortnikov said relatives of a woman killed preparing a suicide bombing in Moscow are suspected of providing assistance in the airport attack. The Jan. 24 bombing at Domodedovo Airport killed 36 people and wounded 180.

IRAQ

Al-Maliki accused Iran, Syria of insurgent aid

BAGHDAD | A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable said Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki accused Iran and Syria of arming insurgents in September 2009 - a charge that would boost American claims that the neighboring countries were launching pads for violence in Iraq.

He made the statement more than a month after deadly bombings at government buildings that led to a dispute with Syria over accusations that Damascus was harboring Sunni terrorists.

Mr. al-Maliki told U.S. Ambassador Christopher Hill on Sept. 22, 2009, that five Shiite militants were captured trying to smuggle weapons in a Toyota Land Cruiser, according to the memo posted on the WikiLeaks website.

VATICAN CITY

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