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Briefly: Decision on archbishop of Canterbury may be months away

- - Sunday, September 30, 2012

LONDON — The Church of England says that a decision to select the new archbishop of Canterbury — the spiritual leader of the 80-million-strong global Anglican communion — could still be months away.

Attention had focused on a private meeting held last week by the Crown Nominations Commission, a group which will choose a successor to Rowan Williams, who is retiring from his post at the end of December.

But the meeting ended Friday with no announcement, leading to speculation that senior clergymen were at an impasse.

The commission said in a statement Friday that an announcement is expected "during the autumn," a period that stretches into late December.

Church of England spokesman Arun Arora said Sunday that there is no set timetable for an announcement.

FRANCE

Thousands denounce EU austerity pact

PARIS — Thousands of left-wing protesters took to the streets of Paris on Sunday to denounce the European Union fiscal pact, which forces governments to stick to tough deficit limits.

Chanting "Resistance," protesters marched through central Paris in a rally organizers said was aimed at fighting EU-imposed austerity, not at criticizing the government of Socialist President Francois Hollande.

"This day is the day the French people launch a movement against the policy of austerity," onetime presidential contender and Left Front leader Jean-Luc Melenchon said at the march, which organizers said gathered more than 50,000 people.

Mr. Melenchon denied that the protest was aimed at Mr. Hollande, saying: "This is a left-wing demonstration under a left-wing government."

Prime Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault is to open what is expected to be a long and difficult debate on the fiscal pact in the National Assembly on Tuesday.

The pact, agreed by EU leaders in March, requires its signatories to write into law a commitment to limit structural deficits to within 0.5 percent of gross domestic product under normal circumstances.

Many on the French left — including within the Socialists and their Green allies -- have said they will vote against the measure, but with right-wing deputies backing the pact, it is expected to be approved.

Speaking to deputies from the left-wing PRG party Sunday, Mr. Ayrault said approving the pact would be an "essential step" in resolving the debt crisis threatening the eurozone and its single currency.

GEORGIA

Police vow to prevent voting unrest

TBILISI — Georgia's Interior Ministry promised Sunday to prevent violence at polling stations, a day before the ex-Soviet republic votes amid heightened tensions caused by a jail torture scandal.

"I believe that we can ensure an environment on Election Day free of intimidation and pressure, allowing every voter in Georgia to cast their vote in a peaceful environment," Interior Minister Eka Zguladze told AFP.

Revelations this month of the torture and rape of prison inmates sparked protests, and hit President Mikheil Saakashvili's ruling party as it faces a strong challenge from an opposition coalition led by billionaire tycoon Bidzina Ivanishvili in Monday's parliamentary polls.

Ms. Zguladze said police would show restraint when dealing with any polling day incidents in order not to inflame tensions.

"The tactic which police will employ will be very cautious. Only as a last resort we will use force," she said.

Ms. Zguladze said that since the torture scandal erupted, there had been 50 arrests across the country amid a series of scuffles involving political activists, ordinary Georgians, public officials and police officers.

The showdown between Mr. Saakashvili's party and Mr. Ivanishvili's opposition bloc has caused fears of unrest in the Western-backed state with a recent history of political turmoil and civil conflict.

From wire dispatches and staff reports