- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 1, 2003

Election irregularities 'did not exceed limits'
YEREVAN More than 1,000 people took to the streets of this capital at midweek to protest first-round election results that were claimed by incumbent President Robert Kocharian, who vowed to win a second term in the Wednesday runoff.
"The results of the first round of the presidential election in Armenia fill me with confidence that I can win," Mr. Kocharian said of the Feb. 19 vote, which showed him with 49.4 percent of the ballot while his top challenger, Stepan Demirchian, collected 28.2 percent. Western election monitors said the first-round vote was "flawed" and "fell far short of international standards."
"Of course, there were some violations, both in favor of the president and the opposition," Mr. Kocharian said in televised remarks, but their number "did not exceed the allowed limits." Mr. Demirchian's supporters say the first-round count was rigged.

Motorcycle gunmen kill two Shi'ites
KARACHI Snipers gunned down two Shi'ite Pakistanis in the southern port city of Karachi late Thursday, police said.
One of three men riding on a motorcycle opened fire with an automatic rifle at a 26-year-old man and his 45-year-old uncle as they were sitting outside their bakery, witnesses said. Both men died on the spot and the shooter fled the scene, witnesses said.
"It appears to be a sectarian killing," said Sindh Home Minister Syed Sardar Ahmed. Last Saturday, snipers riding a motorcycle fatally shot nine persons outside Mehdi Mosque in Karachi.

Chief justice faulted for jailing critic
COLOMBO Sri Lanka's top judge and the judicial system came under attack from a top United Nations official here this week amid the bizarre jailing of a man who criticized Chief Justice Sarath Silva for hearing a case against himself.
Dato Param Cumaraswamy, the U.N. special rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, said Thursday he was "shocked" and "stunned" by the Feb. 6 top court's decision to jail for one year a trade unionist, Michael Fernando, who had challenged Chief Justice Silva for sitting on a bench to hear a case in which the chief justice himself was involved.
Chief Justice Silva was handpicked by President Chandrika Kumaratunga. An impeachment move against him was blocked when she sacked the legislature in October 2001.

Weekly notes …
American nuclear scientists praised India this week for the safety measures at its nuclear-power plants, as the electricity-starved country planned to boost its reliance on nuclear energy. India, which has 14 nuclear reactors, has never had a serious accident. The visit to India by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission was the first since 1998. "What we have observed is that Indian power plants have made remarkable improvements in power capacity," said commission Chairman Richard A. Meserve. Better capacity prompts greater attention to safety, he said.

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