- The Washington Times - Monday, December 15, 2003

VENEZUELA

Chavez calls bid by foes a failure

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez yesterday dismissed an opposition bid to challenge him with a referendum as a failure, but said he would respect any decision by electoral authorities on a vote on his five-year rule.

Venezuela’s opposition says it will soon hand over to the National Electoral Council 3.6 million signatures it says it collected to petition for a referendum on Mr. Chavez’s presidency.

“They must be waiting for the three wise men … maybe they think they’ll get a miracle. But they have failed,” Mr. Chavez said during his regular Sunday television broadcast.

CYPRUS

Cypriot opposition showing strength

NICOSIA — Turkish-Cypriot supporters of a U.N. plan to reunify the divided island of Cyprus claimed victory yesterday after more than half of votes had been counted in a poll that could seal Turkey’s European Union ambitions.

But the pro-settlement parties and a rival bloc backing veteran leader Rauf Denktash could end up with an equal number of seats in the 50-seat parliament owing to an electoral system that sets a 5 percent threshold for entering the assembly.

As counting passed the halfway stage, the main opposition Republican Turkish Party and two other pro-reunification parties had a total of 51 percent, while the two main parties backing Mr. Denktash had around 45 percent.

SENEGAL

Tons of ivory for sale illegally

DAKAR — Nearly 9,000 pounds of illegal ivory is on sale in Nigeria, Ivory Coast and Senegal, three countries singled out for failing to regulate a trade that encourages poaching and threatens the survival of elephants, wildlife-advocacy groups said in a new report.

The three nations — which have nearly wiped out their own elephant populations — have virtually ignored a worldwide ban on ivory trading and their flourishing illegal markets are “driving elephant poaching” in West and Central Africa, according to a joint report released today by Traffic, an organization that monitors trade in endangered species, and the World Wildlife Fund, an international conservation group.

ITALY

Venice celebrates rebuilt opera house

VENICE — Seven years after its beloved opera house burned down, Venice threw itself a party yesterday to celebrate the rebirth of the La Fenice with a gala concert that drew the Italian president, European royalty and Italy’s glitterati.

To Venetians and opera lovers throughout the world, the 18th-century theater represented the soul of this unique lagoon city, and its resurrection from the ashes — Fenice means phoenix — was cause for celebration across Italy.

Riccardo Muti conducted the La Fenice orchestra and chorus at last night’s inaugural concert, which featured Ludwig van Beethoven’s fitting overture, “Consecration of the House.”

BRITAIN

Prince William has day out with press

LONDON — Buying stamps, chocolate and some light reading at a local shop, Prince William allowed the news media a glimpse into his life as a college student at Scotland’s St. Andrews University.

Royal officials invited a reporter and photographers from the national Press Association news agency to follow him on Friday.

The prince, who is in the third year of a four-year-degree course at Scotland’s oldest university, said he was glad he had changed his major field of study from art history to geography..


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