- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 16, 2004

WEST BANK

Palestinians request Arafat death report

RAMALLAH — Palestinian leaders said yesterday that they had asked for a full report on Yasser Arafat’s death in a Paris hospital last week, challenging French laws under which his widow has maintained a veil of secrecy.

Palestinian militants have accused Israel of poisoning the Palestinian leader, a charge denied by Israeli and French officials but which threatens to feed discontent in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and complicate the succession process.

“We do not want to jump to conclusions. We only want to have the medical report, though we trust the French doctors and the French government,” said Yasser Abed Rabbo, a senior figure in the Palestine Liberation Organization.

MACEDONIA

Prime minister quits over coalition dispute

SKOPJE — Prime Minister Hari Kostov resigned yesterday over disagreements with ethnic Albanian coalition partners, setting off a government crisis in the Balkan state, where ethnic tensions run high.

Mr. Kostov, who became prime minister in May, accused the ethnic Albanian Democratic Union for Integration of promoting partisan interests, nepotism and corruption. Ermira Mehmeti, a spokeswoman for the party, said it was “surprised” by the action.

If the resignation is accepted by parliament on Thursday, President Branko Crvenkovski could name a new prime minister without calling early elections.

MEXICO

Fox’s party surprises by winning state vote

TLAXCALA — President Vicente Fox’s party was headed toward a surprise election victory in Mexico’s smallest state, near-complete results showed yesterday, in a rare boost for its hopes to keep the presidency in 2006.

Mr. Fox’s National Action Party, or PAN, had a narrow lead in the race for governor in the central state of Tlaxcala, with more than 96 percent of ballot boxes counted from the Sunday election.

PAN also fared much better than expected in the western state Sinaloa, finishing a close second to the main opposition Institutional Revolutionary Party, which had been expected to maintain its control of the state comfortably.

VATICAN

Pope tells Baghdad to avoid military force

VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II urged Iraq’s government yesterday to use military force “only as a last resort” in its efforts to stabilize the country.

The pope, addressing Baghdad’s new envoy to the Vatican, also said Iraq’s first elections since Saddam Hussein’s ouster must be fair, transparent and democratic.

The pontiff expressed deep concern for religious freedom in post-Saddam Iraq, where Islamic militants have bombed several churches and spread fear among Christians.

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