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Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I met with members of a parliamentary subcommittee seeking an all-party consensus in drawing up a constitution that will replace the one ratified in 1982 while Turkey was under military rule.

The subcommittee is meeting with nongovernmental organizations and representatives of minority groups for input on drafting the laws.

Mostly Muslim Turkey, which is seeking to join the European Union, has small Christian and Jewish communities. The EU has made improved rights for the religious groups a condition for membership.

 

Turkey’s existing constitution guarantees religious freedom. But when it comes to minority religions, the country has long been criticized for restricting the training of clergy and the ownership of places of worship, and for interfering with the selection of church leaders.

SOUTH SUDAN

Attacks, clashes increase on Sudanese border

JUBA — Sudan’s military is carrying out a bombing campaign intended to shut down the main route for refugees fleeing violence in the country’s south, a rebel spokesman said Monday.

A former American aid worker who lives in the region documented five attacks and clashes last week.

Attacks by the Sudanese Armed Forces have been focused along the road leading out of Southern Kordofan, Sudan, into Yida, South Sudan, said Arnu Loddi, a spokesman for the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, a rebel group inside Sudan.

More than 20,000 refugees have fled to a camp in Yida to escape the violence, and the United Nations worries that hundreds of thousands more could be on the way.

YEMEN

Polling station blown up one day before vote

SANAA — Gunmen blew up a voting station in southern Yemen on Monday, one day before voters were to go to the polls to rubber-stamp the vice president as the new head of state.

The attack in the port city of Aden underlines the security vacuum in the Arab world’s poorest country after a one-year popular uprising seeking to oust longtime President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

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