- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 1, 2006

SOUTH AFRICA

Apartheid president dies at 90

CAPE TOWN — P.W. Botha, the apartheid-era president who led South Africa through its worst racial violence and deepest international isolation, died peacefully at his home yesterday at age 90.

Nicknamed the “Old Crocodile” for his feared temper and sometimes ruthless manner, Mr. Botha served as head of the white racist government from 1978 to 1989.

Throughout his leadership, he resisted mounting pressure to free South Africa’s most famous political prisoner, Nelson Mandela. Mr. Mandela was released by Mr. Botha’s successor, F.W. de Klerk, in 1990.

MEXICO

Oaxaca protesters restore barricades

OAXACA — Some of the barricades torn down by federal police went back up yesterday as protesters regrouped, and at least one federal official acknowledged that this city besieged by striking teachers and anarchists remained outside government control.

Federal police held the central square, but schools and most businesses remained closed as protesters used debris, stones and sandbags to block recently cleared streets.

Demonstrators who flocked to the capital city of 275,000 are demanding the resignation of Gov. Ulises Ruiz, whom they accuse of suppressing dissent and rigging the 2004 elections.

BRITAIN

Opposition bid fails to force Iraq probe

LONDON — Prime Minister Tony Blair defeated an opposition bid in Parliament yesterday to force an inquiry into his handling of the Iraq war.

But his party’s majority was cut to 25 from more than 60 as some Labor lawmakers rebelled on an issue that has divided the party and the country and eroded Mr. Blair’s authority.

Losing the vote would have increased pressure on Mr. Blair to reassess his Iraq strategy at a time when politicians and even the head of the army have questioned the point of having troops there.

UNITED NATIONS

Compromise sought on contested seat

NEW YORK — Guatemala and Venezuela remained deadlocked in their battle for a seat on the U.N. Security Council on the 43rd ballot yesterday, but diplomats held out hope that a meeting of their foreign ministers could break the impasse.

Chile’s U.N. ambassador, Heraldo Munoz, said there is a “strong possibility” the foreign ministers of Venezuela and Guatemala will meet today in New York to come up with a compromise candidate.

The Dominican Republic appeared to be emerging as the leading alternative to serve a two-year term on the most powerful U.N. body.

ISRAEL

Defense minister eyes Arab peace initiative

TEL AVIV — Defense Minister Amir Peretz said yesterday that a dormant Saudi initiative for Middle East peace could be a “basis for negotiation,” indicating a chance for talks with the Palestinians after years of stalemate.

The Saudi plan calls for a comprehensive peace between Israel and the Arab world, based on a complete Israeli withdrawal from lands it captured in the 1967 Mideast war.

Mr. Peretz said he was not endorsing the plan, but he was the most senior Israeli official even to publicly consider it. “We could see the Saudi initiative as the basis for negotiation,” Mr. Peretz said at an academic conference at Tel Aviv University.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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