- - Monday, December 24, 2012

EGYPT

CAIRO — Egypt’s president ordered parliament’s upper chamber to convene after the release of official results of a referendum on an Islamist-backed constitution that gives temporary legislative powers to the traditionally toothless chamber.

The results had been expected Monday but were not released, and the electoral commission had not set a date to announce them.

The Muslim Brotherhood, the main group that backed the charter, said it passed with 64 percent of the vote — a result likely to be confirmed by the official result.

Parliament’s upper house, the Shura Council, cannot convene before the official word that the constitution has passed.

The new constitution would give the Shura Council powers to legislate until the lower house is elected within the next two months.

IRAQ

Iranian exiles blame Iraqis for camp death

BAGHDAD — An Iranian exile group representing residents of a refugee camp outside Baghdad alleged Monday that one of its members died after Iraqi authorities prevented him from being hospitalized last month.

The allegation is the latest in a series of charges against the Iraqi government by the Paris-based National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) over what it sees as poor treatment at two refugee camps in Iraq.

Members of the group’s Mujahedeen-e-Khalq militant wing, which until recently was labeled a foreign terrorist group by Washington, began moving this year from their longtime home at Camp Ashraf in northeastern Iraq to a camp close to the Iraqi capital’s airport.

The Baghdad-area camp, a former U.S. military base known as Camp Liberty, is meant to be a way station while the United Nations works to resettle the residents abroad. They are unlikely to return to Iran because of their opposition to the regime.

ISRAEL

Indian Jews from ‘lost tribe’ move to Israel

JERUSALEM — Dozens of Jews who claim to be the descendants of a lost biblical Jewish tribe emigrated to Israel on Monday from their village in northeastern India, celebrating their arrival after a five-year struggle to enter the country.

The Bnei Menashe say they are descended from Jews banished from ancient Israel to India in the eighth century B.C.

An Israeli chief rabbi recognized them as a lost tribe in 2005, and about 1,700 moved to Israel over the next two years before the government stopped giving them visas.

SOUTH AFRICA

Mandela to stay in hospital over Christmas, is improving

JOHANNESBURG — South Africa’s president said former leader Nelson Mandela will spend Christmas Day in the hospital.

President Jacob Zuma said in a statement that Mr. Mandela’s doctors confirmed the news Monday.

The anti-apartheid figure was admitted Dec. 8 to a hospital in Pretoria, the South African capital. Doctors diagnosed a lung infection, and Mr. Mandela underwent a procedure to remove gallstones. Officials have said Mr. Mandela is improving and responding to treatment.

Mr. Zuma said the whole country is behind Mr. Mandela, and he is urging people to keep the former president in their thoughts on Christmas Day and throughout the holiday season.

YEMEN

2 al Qaeda militants killed in strike from U.S. drone

SANAA | A U.S. drone airstrike killed two al Qaeda militants Monday in a southern town, Yemeni security officials said, the latest in a years-long U.S. offensive against the branch that the U.S. considers the violent extremists’ most dangerous.

One of the dead was a midlevel al Qaeda Yemeni operative who escaped a U.S. drone attack 10 years ago, the officials said. The other was said to be a Jordanian.

They said the airstrike on Radda in Bayda province also critically injured three militants.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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