Violence mars election runoff
KINSHASA — Supporters backing the two candidates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s presidential runoff election battled in the streets of the capital yesterday, sending residents running for cover and leaving at least two civilians dead, witnesses and U.N. peacekeepers said.
Fighters fired mortar rounds and handed out ammunition at the residence of Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba, who is trailing President Joseph Kabila as the counting of votes continues in elections meant to bring peace to Congo after a bloody four-year civil war.
Government nixes power-sharing deal
MOGADISHU — Somalia’s weak interim government yesterday rejected a new peace initiative by a renegade lawmaker and the Islamic movement controlling much of the war-ruined East African nation.
The latest deal meant to calm Somalia was struck Friday in Mogadishu between the Islamic group, which controls the capital and most of the south, and parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden. Mr. Aden acted without authorization, a government spokesman said yesterday.
Analysts fear Somalia could become a proxy battleground for neighboring Ethiopia and Eritrea, which broke away from Ethiopia in a 30-year civil war ending in 1991 and fought another 1998-2000 border war with its rival. Eritrea supports the Islamic militia, while Ethiopia backs the interim government.
Trade fair booms despite violence
SULAIMANIYAH — Hundreds of companies from around the world looking for opportunities in Iraq took part yesterday in an international fair in this city in the relatively peaceful Kurdish north.
The fair, organized by the Iraqi-American Chamber of Commerce, was inaugurated by Nechirvan Barzani, the prime minister of Kurdistan’s regional government.
Some 370 companies from around the world — including five from the United States, 50 from Germany and 24 from Italy — were taking part in the four-day conference.
2 U.N. peacekeepers killed by gunmen
PORT-AU-PRINCE — Unidentified gunmen attacked U.N. peacekeepers near a restive slum in Haiti’s capital, killing two Jordanian members of the force, officials said yesterday.
The attack came late Friday as peacekeepers headed back to base near the Cite Soleil neighborhood, where well-armed gangs blamed for kidnappings are based, U.N. police spokesman Fred Blaze said. One soldier died en route to the hospital, the other while being treated.
U.N. officials said the slayings appeared premeditated.
Dalai Lama urges Beijing to democratize
TOKYO — Tibet’s spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, told a Japanese opposition party politician that democratization would make China a more predictable neighbor, according to a press report yesterday.
The Dalai Lama, ending a 14-day visit to Japan, said surrounding countries have difficulty knowing what actions “the big dragon” — referring to China — will take, Kyodo News agency said.
According to the Japanese lawmaker, Yukio Edano of the Democratic Party of Japan, the Dalai Lama said China would become predictable if it embraced democracy and “the dragon will become calm,” Kyodo reported.
The revered Buddhist leader, long blocked by Beijing from returning to his homeland, is visiting Japan at the invitation of a religious group in western Hiroshima state to give a series of lectures, according to the group’s liaison office.
From wire dispatches and staff reports