- - Thursday, April 5, 2012


DUBAI — United Arab Emirates authorities temporarily detained members of a U.S.-funded democracy group as they tried to leave the country after their office was ordered closed, U.S. officials said Thursday.

The group included the local director of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), who was briefly held and left the country, and another staff member, who was apparently held longer and later released, said State Department spokesman Mark Toner.

The other NDI staff member remained in the United Arab Emirates.

“We continue to be in close contact with the government of the U.A.E. to try to find a resolution to this,” said Mr. Toner in Washington.

The NDI was ordered closed last week along with other foreign groups in the United Arab Emirates.

The NDI also was among several foreign groups raided by Egyptian authorities in December. Some activists, including the son of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and other Americans, later were charged with fomenting unrest.


Berlusconi ally quits in corruption scandal

ROME — The firebrand founder of a populist, Italian anti-immigrant party, whose crucial support kept Silvio Berlusconi in power in three governments, resigned Thursday amid a widening corruption scandal over party funds.

Umberto Bossi tendered his resignation as Northern League secretary, the top post, at a summit of party officials in Milan and repeatedly rebuffed pleas by his colleagues to change his mind, said a Northern League statement.

In a show of support for Mr. Bossi, 70, who made a stunning comeback after a 2004 stroke left him barely able to speak, party officials made him Northern League president and also asked him “to carry on with his political activity with even greater determination and conviction,” the party said.

Until a new secretary is chosen, the Northern League will be led by a triumvirate of officials, including Roberto Maroni, the party’s No. 2, who served as interior minister under Mr. Berlusconi.


State seizes controlling stake in foreign mines

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