- - Sunday, November 6, 2011

GREECE

Leaders agree on interim government

ATHENS — Greece’s embattled prime minister and main opposition leader agreed Sunday to form an interim government. The pact ensured the country’s new European debt deal, capping a week of political turmoil that had Greece facing catastrophic default and the likely loss of its euro membership.

Greek leaders had been anxious to end the political crisis before Monday, when the nation participates in a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Brussels.

The initial agreement, which will see Prime Minister George Papandreou step down, came after a week of drama sparked by his announcement he was taking the debt deal to a referendum.

He withdrew that plan Thursday after intense opposition from European leaders and his own Socialist lawmakers, many of whom called for him to resign.

NICARAGUA

Ortega poised to win third presidential term

MANAGUA — Nicaraguan President and one-time Sandinista revolutionary Daniel Ortega appeared headed for victory Sunday in an election that his critics say could be the prelude to a presidency for life.

Since returning to power in 2007, the 65-year-old Mr. Ortega has boosted his popularity in Central America’s poorest country with a combination of pork-barrel populism and support for the free-market economy he once opposed.

With nearly 50 percent of voter support and an 18-point lead over his nearest challenger in the most recent poll, Mr. Ortega could end up with a mandate that would not only legitimize his re-election but also allow him to make constitutional changes guaranteeing perpetual re-election.

SYRIA

Troops kill 11 despite Arab League accord

BEIRUT — Syrians in the restive region of Homs said special prayers for a major Muslim holiday to the sound of explosions and gunfire as government troops pushed their assault on the area, killing at least 11 people Sunday, residents and activists said.

The violence on the first day of Eid al-Adha, or Feast of the Sacrifice, added to fears that a peace plan brokered by the Arab League last week was unraveling and prompted Qatar’s prime minister to call for an emergency meeting Saturday to discuss the Syrian government’s failure to abide by its commitments.

Violence has continued unabated, though Damascus agreed to halt its crackdown on the 7-month-old uprising that the U.N. says has left about 3,000 people dead.

Under the Arab League plan, Syria’s government agreed to pull tanks and armored vehicles out of cities, release political prisoners and allow journalists and rights groups into the country.

BRITAIN

Fireworks smoke linked to crash that killed 7

LONDON — Police investigating the cause of a 34-car crash on a major British highway that killed seven people and injured 51 said Sunday they are focusing on a fireworks display near the accident site.

Initial reports suggested fog and wet roads were partly to blame for the huge collision, But police said they refocused on the fireworks show because evidence indicated that black smoke may have been the key road hazard.

Rescue workers have described the vehicle pileup as one of the deadliest in the country in years.

Friday night’s crash on the M5 highway in southwestern England involved dozens of cars and industrial trucks consumed by flames, with intense fireballs that made it difficult for rescue workers to get near the vehicles.

GUATEMALA

Former general leads presidential polls

GUATEMALA CITY — Guatemalans rattled by soaring violence had to choose Sunday between two right-leaning presidential candidates: a former general who promises law and order and a tycoon-turned-populist whose proposals include more social programs and zero tolerance of crime.

Polls showed Otto Perez Molina, 61, a retired general and former military intelligence director running for the right-wing Patriotic Party, at least 10 to 15 points ahead of Manuel Baldizon, 41, of the Democratic Freedom Revival party.

Mr. Perez and Mr. Baldizon were in a runoff after gaining the most votes in the Sept. 11 presidential election, which Mr. Perez also won but not by the required outright majority for a first-round victory.

But some analysts say there’s a disconnection between polls, believed to favor the establishment candidate Mr. Perez, and what is really a tight race.

NIGERIA

Muslim terrorists threaten top hotels

LAGOS — A radical Muslim sect responsible for attacks that left more than 100 people dead in northeast Nigeria this week could bomb three luxury hotels frequented by foreigners in the oil-rich nation’s capital, the U.S. Embassy warned Sunday.

The unusually specific warning from U.S. diplomats identified possible targets of the sect known locally as Boko Haram as the Hilton, Nicon Luxury and Sheraton hotels. Those hotels attract diplomats, politicians and Nigeria’s business elite daily in the country’s central capital of Abuja.

The embassy said the attack may come as Nigeria celebrates the Muslim holiday Eid al-Adha and that its diplomats and staff had been instructed to avoid those hotels.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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