- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 7, 2005

IRAN

Voters eye better relations with U.S.

TEHRAN — Iranian voters are used to hearing their politicians chant “Death to America,” but the issue of relations with the United States has been turned on its head with a presidential election next week.

As one Iranian analyst pointed out: “For most Iranians, the breaking off of relations with Washington is the main cause of their problems, and many people want to give their next president a mandate to resolve the issue.”

The religious regime has failed to stem public calls for conciliation, most recently in 2002 when it jailed opinion pollsters who published a survey indicating that three-quarters of the population hoped dialogue with the United States would resume.

EGYPT

Challenger seeks 2 years for reform

CAIRO — The sole declared contender in Egypt’s first multicandidate presidential election in September will seek only a two-year mandate to implement democratic reform, the opposition Ghad Party announced yesterday.

Western nations, including the United States, have pressed Egypt to hold free and fair elections and reform a political landscape dominated by 77-year-old President Hosni Mubarak, who has ruled since 1981. He has yet to say whether he will seek a fifth six-year term, but is expected to run.

“Ayman Nour, the Ghad presidential candidate, announced his plan for a transition period of two years, during which full democratic transformation [will be] achieved by building necessary institutions and restoring civil liberties,” senior Ghad Party official Wael Nawara said. “If elected, Nour vowed that after this two-year period, he will step down and call early elections.”

LIBYA

10 cleared of torture in AIDS prosecution

TRIPOLI — Nine Libyan policemen and a physician were cleared yesterday of torturing five Bulgarian nurses to force them to confess to deliberately infecting hundreds of Libyan children with the virus that causes AIDS.

“The court has decided that all the defendants are not guilty and they were acquitted of the charges against them,” said Judge Abdullah Aoun.

A Libyan court last year sentenced the nurses and a Palestinian doctor to death by firing squad for infecting 426 children at a hospital in Benghazi. The medics, who have been in jail since 1999, say they were forced to confess because Libya wanted scapegoats rather than to admit the HIV infections were caused by poor hygiene. The Supreme Court is set to rule Nov. 15 on their appeal.

Weekly notes …

Yemeni authorities arrested a U.S. citizen in western Yemen after he raised police suspicion by traveling on a motorcycle without a license plate. The opposition Yemeni Tagamoo for Reforms Party said on its Web site yesterday that the American, “who spoke fluent Arabic,” was seized Sunday in the Red Sea province of Hadida and sent to the intelligence department for investigation. … Kuwait named two women to public office this week for the first time, less than a month after parliament passed legislation granting women the right to vote and run for office. Fatema Al Sabah, a member of the royal family and an engineer, and Fawzia al-Bahr, also an engineer, on Sunday joined four other new members to the 16-member municipal council, Kuwait’s prime minister told the official Kuwait News Agency.


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