- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 28, 2006

CZECH REPUBLIC

Conservatives win majority in Senate

PRAGUE — The conservative Civic Democrats won an absolute majority in the Czech Republic’s upper house of parliament yesterday, opening the door to a resolution of the country’s political deadlock.

Caretaker Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek’s party took 14 of 27 seats contested, scraping the minimum 41 senators needed to command the 81-seat Senate.

SERBIA

Referendum asserts claim to Kosovo

BELGRADE — The U.N.-administered Kosovo province was the focus yesterday as Serbia began a weekend referendum on a proposed constitution that reasserts the nation’s claim to the region, whose status is under negotiation at international talks.

The government said the charter would consolidate democracy and the rule of law after the era of the late autocrat Slobodan Milosevic, but attention centered on the preamble’s declaration that predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo is an “integral part of Serbia.”

Kosovo Albanians, 90 percent of the province’s population, are seeking independence.

LEBANON

Rice tells Hezbollah to give up weapons

BEIRUT — Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stepped up international pressure on Hezbollah to disarm, saying the guerrilla group must surrender its weapons if it wants to remain part of Lebanon’s political process.

Miss Rice, in an interview with the privately owned Lebanese Broadcasting Corp. aired Friday, told Hezbollah to lay down its arms according to the Aug. 14 cease-fire that ended its 34-day war with Israel, and choose between terrorism or politics.

Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria, has refused to disarm despite heavy international pressure to surrender its weapons. The group holds 11 seats in the Lebanese parliament and two spots in the Cabinet.

FRANCE

Poisoned mushroom picker gets new liver

RENNES — A French mushroom picker poisoned by a potentially lethal “death cap” fungus has undergone a liver transplant, a hospital in northwestern France said yesterday.

The victim, who has not been identified, was one of three patients reported by the hospital in the western city of Rennes to be in a serious condition after eating poisonous mushrooms.

Seven other persons were released after being hospitalized in a less serious condition from eating mushrooms.

Amanita phalloides mushrooms, commonly known as “death caps,” can easily be confused with other common species such as parasols.

RUSSIA

Three parties form pro-Kremlin bloc

MOSCOW — Three parties loyal to the Kremlin merged yesterday to form a new “Justice Russia” party, ahead of December 2007 legislative elections.

The alliance unites the left-wing nationalist Rodina (Fatherland), Jizn (Party of Life), and the Party of Pensioners.

Sergei Mironov, currently head of Jizn and president of the upper house of parliament, was voted leader of the new party. He said the party will continue to support President Vladimir Putin.

From wire dispatches and staff reports


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