- The Washington Times - Friday, November 21, 2003

GEORGIA

Top official admits election fraud

TBILISI — Georgia’s powerful security chief declared this month’s parliamentary elections fraudulent and called yesterday for a new vote, signaling a rift in President Eduard Shevardnadze’s government.

Security Council Secretary Tedo Dzhaparidze, who oversees Georgia’s police and security forces, warned the political crisis could escalate into bloodshed as opposition demonstrators advanced on the capital.

A column of buses, minivans and cars stretching for miles began arriving in Tbilisi yesterday, packed with an estimated 10,000 demonstrators. Many hung out windows, waving flags and chanting “Resign, Resign,” against Mr. Shevardnadze.

The United States has declared the elections marred by “massive vote fraud” in some regions and not accurately reflective of “the will of the Georgian people.”

AFGHANISTAN

American general pleased with progress

KABUL — A senior American general visiting U.S. troops in Afghanistan said yesterday he is pleased with the progress in rebuilding the country — despite an increasingly active insurgency that has seen hit-and-run attacks rising by the month.

Marine Gen. Peter Pace, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, characterized recent military action by suspected Taliban and al Qaeda fighters as acts of desperation “because they know that they are losing.”

Gen. Pace was in Afghanistan on a brief visit to meet with troops in the field ahead of Thanksgiving. He said troop morale was high.

TAIWAN

Scrap metal falls from tallest building

TAIPEI — Pieces of metal fell off the world’s tallest building yesterday, injuring at least two passers-by and littering the grounds of an elementary school, an engineer and local TV reported.

Engineer Lin Pei-yuan told TVBS cable news that a worker had been moving a cart with metal construction materials from the 90th to the 91st floor of the Taipei 101 building, which is named after its number of floors. The building is expected to open next year.

Two passers-by had been treated at a hospital for slight injuries, TVBS reported. Other TV stations reported up to five people were hurt, but officials weren’t confirming the numbers.

Taipei 101 is more than 165 feet taller than the world’s former highest office building, the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The highest freestanding structure remains the 1,800-foot CN Tower in Toronto.

ZIMBABWE

Authorities release 52 labor leaders

HARARE — A magistrate has freed 52 persons, including 14 labor leaders, two days after their arrest during nationwide demonstrations against President Robert Mugabe’s autocratic rule and the country’s economic hardships.

Nearly 90 people were arrested Tuesday, including 52 persons arrested in the capital — among them the four top leaders of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions. The 52 detainees made their first appearance Thursday before Magistrate Sukai Tongogara.

Magistrate Tongogara released them on the condition they return later to face charges of violating the nation’s strict security laws by organizing an illegal political demonstration, said their attorney, Alec Muchadehama. The offense is punishable by up to six months in jail.

Labor leaders had called for a nationwide strike to protest Tuesday’s arrests, but it failed to take hold Thursday.

From wire disptatches and staff reports


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