- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 7, 2006

BOLIVIAPro-Morales peasants kidnap a governorLA PAZ — Bolivian peasants held a regional governor hostage yesterday in a show of support for President Evo Morales, who is facing strong opposition over plans to rewrite the constitution, local press reported.Tension is growing in Bolivia over the voting rules in a Constitutional Assembly elected earlier this year. The opposition says Mr. Morales wants to deprive critics of a voice in the process, and a wave of hunger strikes is under way.Mr. Morales, Bolivia’s first indigenous president, said the hunger strikes by hundreds of opposition politicians are “a blow to democracy” dealt by “the racist right.” Among those on hunger strike are lawmakers and several regional governors.PALESTINEU.N. seeks millions for blacklisted HamasJERUSALEM — U.N. aid groups are asking for a record $450 million to stem a deepening Palestinian humanitarian crisis, noting yesterday that international sanctions and Israeli limits on Gaza exports have devastated the Palestinian economy.Despite that gloomy assessment, a top minister in the Hamas-led government offered a rare upbeat economic picture yesterday, saying increased aid from Arab countries had allowed the government to stay viable. But independent economists and analysts said the government was still deep in crisis. The United Nations will officially initiate its appeal today.NORTH KOREAU.S. offers details on energy aidIn discussions with North Korean officials, U.S. diplomats offered specific details on the kind of economic and energy assistance Pyongyang would receive in exchange for dismantling its nuclear weapons facilities, a State Department official said yesterday.Christopher R. Hill, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs and chief negotiator on North Korea, discussed what the United States and other parties to the six-nation negotiations would do in response to a credible North Korean disarmament commitment, the official said.The basic outlines of the next steps were spelled out in a statement of principles signed in September 2005 by the six nations — the U.S., North Korea, South Korea, China, Russia and Japan. There has been little headway since then, but Mr. Hill’s talks in Beijing raised hopes about the possibility of forward movement.CONGOKabila takes office, vows to end violenceKINSHASA — Joseph Kabila took office yesterday as Congo’s first democratically elected president in more than four decades, pledging to combat the corruption and violence that have crippled his resource-rich nation.The 35-year-old former guerrilla commander, who became the unelected leader of Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2001 after his father, President Laurent Kabila, was assassinated, won a five-year mandate through the ballot box in a tense Oct. 29 presidential runoff.ISRAELCaptives suffered serious injuriesJERUSALEM — The two Israeli soldiers captured by Hezbollah guerrillas last summer suffered serious injuries in the attack that sparked a monthlong war, military officials said yesterday, raising the possibility the men may no longer be alive.One of the soldiers was in critical condition after Hezbollah launched its cross-border attack July 12, while the other was seriously wounded, the officials said military censors had previously prohibited publication of their conditions.Hezbollah has not released any details on the conditions of Eldad Regev and Ehud Goldwasser or provided any signs that they are still alive.KYRGYZSTANU.S. serviceman kills Kyrgyz truck driverBISHKEK — A U.S. serviceman fatally shot a fuel truck driver because of a “threat” at a U.S. air base in the Central Asian state of Kyrgyzstan yesterday, officials said.The exact reason for the shooting of the Kyrgyz national was not known, said a spokesman for the civilian part of the Manas airport that also houses the U.S. air base.U.S. troops have been stationed at the airport to support military operations in nearby Afghanistan.From wire dispatches and staff reports

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