- The Washington Times - Tuesday, May 11, 2004

PHILIPPINES

Arroyo holds lead in early results

MANILA — Incumbent Gloria Macapagal Arroyo appeared on course today for another six years as president as the first exit survey by a major polling firm showed her with a wide lead over her film star rival, Fernando Poe Jr., in the Manila region.

Other early surveys suggested that yesterday’s national election was a closer race, raising the prospect of a disputed result and leaving Manila markets with some uncertainty as they opened.

Mrs. Arroyo, 57, a U.S.-trained economist and the daughter of a former president, had the support of big business, charismatic Christian groups and much of the political elite as she campaigned largely on her track record and Mr. Poe’s inexperience.

EGYPT

Arab ministers endorse democracy

CAIRO — Arab foreign ministers yesterday endorsed the concepts of democracy and human rights in a document prepared for approval at an Arab summit May 22-23 in Tunis, officials said.

Algerian Foreign Minister Abdelaziz Belkhadem told reporters after three days of talks in Cairo that the document also called for creating an independent judiciary, promoting civil society and improving the status of women in the Arab world.

“The most important features of the draft declaration is that it asserts the need to develop the Arab system of government and civil society … in the field of deepening the practice of democracy,” he said.

ARGENTINA

Kirchner orders troops to Haiti

BUENOS AIRES — Argentine President Nestor Kirchner has authorized sending about 500 soldiers to Haiti as part of a new U.N. peacekeeping mission in an important show of support for Washington.

The United Nations authorized a force of up to 6,700 soldiers to restore order to chaotic Haiti after President Jean-Bertrand Aristide fled an armed revolt two months ago under pressure from the international community.

PAKISTAN

Exile returns after crackdown

LONDON — The younger brother of exiled former Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said yesterday that a government crackdown on his supporters made his flight back to Pakistan urgent.

Pakistani police say they have detained hundreds of Shahbaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League activists ahead of his return from exile, but party officials put the number at more than 1,200.

“In the face of these heavy-handed tactics of [President Pervez] Musharraf, I will definitely depart London this evening for Pakistan,” Shahbaz Sharif said.

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