- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 6, 2004


Chavez foes march for early referendum

CARACAS — Tens of thousands of opponents of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez marched yesterday to demand that a referendum against him be held before Aug. 19 so that a victory could conclusively oust the leader and his entire government.

The march was called to hail Thursday’s decision by electoral authorities to call a referendum this year after the opposition collected enough pro-vote signatures.

But a vote date still has to be set, and when it is held is critical. Under the constitution, if the referendum is held after Aug. 19 and Mr. Chavez loses, his vice president — a loyal supporter — will take over until elections in December 2006.

But if Mr. Chavez is recalled before Aug. 19, new elections will be held within 30 days.


Serbian boy killed; 2 Albanians held

GRACANICA — A Serbian teenager was fatally shot in Kosovo yesterday and police quickly arrested two Albanians suspected of trying to ignite another round of ethnic violence in the United Nations-run province.

A U.N. police spokesman said the 16-year-old died when gunmen fired from a car into a group of young Serbs at a hamburger kiosk at 2 a.m. Police in Pristina later stopped a suspect car and seized two Albanians with guns.

The killing was the first since mid-March, when 19 persons died and villages were torched in what NATO said was an “orchestrated” bid to provoke the worst violence in Kosovo’s five years under U.N. rule.


U.N. staff abducted in Darfur region

CAIRO — At least 16 persons working for the United Nations have been abducted in Sudan’s western Darfur region, Sudanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs Najeeb al-Kheir Abdul Wahab said yesterday. A U.N. official declined to comment.

The United Nations says fighting in Darfur, where a rebellion began a year ago, has displaced about 1 million people and that the threat of malnutrition and disease among refugees could cause a humanitarian crisis.

Rebels took up arms in Darfur against the government last year, accusing Khartoum of neglecting the remote area bordering Chad and of arming Arab militias to loot and burn African villages.


Aid groups warned of suicide-attack plot

QUETTA — Pakistani authorities have warned Western aid groups and the U.N. refugee agency to strengthen security against threats of Taliban suicide attacks, officials said yesterday.

Mullah Hashim Sagzai, a formerly unknown Taliban fighter now believed to live in a refugee camp in Baluchistan province near the Afghan border, was identified as the lead planner of the plots.


Pope addresses youth rally

BERN — Pope John Paul II made his first foreign trip in nine months yesterday by visiting Switzerland, calling it his “duty” to keep traveling. He told young people he had no intention of giving up the papacy.

The pontiff, 84, spoke to a rally of 13,000 Swiss Roman Catholic youths, his hands trembling but his voice clear. He had difficulty speaking at times, but the crowd encouraged him by cheering.

“It’s wonderful to be able to offer oneself until the end for the cause of the Kingdom of God,” he told the rally, describing that as his testimony after nearly 60 years as a priest.

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