- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 3, 2004

IRAN

Khamenei opposes postponing vote

TEHRAN — Iran’s supreme leader opposes postponing Feb. 20 elections, effectively siding with hard-liners in a crisis that has paralyzed the nation’s political system, a prominent lawmaker told the Associated Press yesterday.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told the country’s reformist president, Mohammed Khatami, during crisis talks yesterday that parliamentary elections must be held as scheduled, lawmaker Rajabali Mazrouei said.

The meeting between Ayatollah Khamenei, who has the final say on all state matters, and the embattled president was seen as a last chance to ease Iran’s worst political crisis in years.

Earlier in the day, scores of reformist lawmakers called for a postponement of the parliamentary elections.

IRAQ

Suicide bomb toll rises to 101

BAGHDAD — The death toll in the weekend double suicide bombings in the Kurdish city of Irbil climbed to 101, the U.S.-led coalition said yesterday.

Hundreds were attending separate ceremonies Sunday at offices of the Kurdistan Democratic Party and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan marking a Muslim holiday when suicide bombers detonated explosives strapped to their bodies.

The attacks were the bloodiest since a vehicle bomb exploded Aug. 29 outside a mosque in the Shi’ite Muslim holy city of Najaf, which killed more than 85 persons.

UKRAINE

Parliament votes to keep old statute

KIEV — Allies of President Leonid Kuchma bowed to pressure from opposition parties and Western rights groups yesterday and voted to uphold Ukraine’s system of electing the head of state by popular vote.

But the ex-Soviet state’s pro-reform opposition, after a boisterous session of parliament, said the veteran president still was determined to defy international criticism and change the constitution before a presidential election in October.

More than 300 deputies in the 450-seat parliament voted to keep the existing electoral system. Mr. Kuchma’s allies had rammed a bill through parliament in December providing for the chamber, dominated by his allies, to elect the head of state from 2006.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Genocide trial of Serb leader opens

THE HAGUE — The long-delayed genocide trial of Momcilo Krajisnik, once the second most powerful Serbian politician in Bosnia, opened yesterday with the prosecutor claiming the ex-legislator helped craft the brutal wartime policy of ethnic cleansing.

Mr. Krajisnik, 59, was head of parliament and the right-hand man of Bosnian Serb President Radovan Karadzic during the 1991-95 Bosnian war, which left an estimated 200,000 people dead.

Mr. Krajisnik pleaded not guilty to eight counts of war crimes, including genocide and complicity in genocide.

ARGENTINA

Ecuador withdraws envoy over charge

BUENOS AIRES — Ecuador withdrew its ambassador to Buenos Aires at Argentina’s request yesterday after the envoy was accused of helping a “Dirty War” general violate the terms of his house arrest.

Envoy Germanico Molina was removed from his post after visiting Carlos Guillermo Suarez Mason, a former top army general jailed at home for baby theft during the 1976-83 military dictatorship. Mr. Molina denies he helped Suarez Mason break the law by leaving his home.

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