- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

CANADA

Quebec separatists seek election victory

MONTREAL — Residents of French-speaking Quebec went to the polls yesterday in an election likely to result in a minority government and stem separatists’ hopes of holding a vote on breaking away from Canada. About 5.6 million ballots were expected to be cast.

Analysts at the start of the campaign in late February thought Liberal Premier Jean Charest would win a second term and stave off a plebiscite on Quebec independence for five years, but the separatist Parti Quebecois, which promises to hold a referendum if it wins, made great strides in the final stretch.

An unexpected surge of support for the conservative Action Democratique du Quebec (ADQ), led by Mario Dumont, was close behind, with too little support to form a government, but expected to win enough votes to ordain the winner in a minority situation — the first in Quebec since 1878. The ADQ, which favors more autonomy for Quebec but not independence, made the contest too close to predict.

JAMAICA

Cricket coach’s slaying mars isle’s reputation

KINGSTON — Jamaica was making headway against its violent reputation before the strangulation of Pakistani cricket coach Bob Woolmer further tarnished the image of the Caribbean tourist playground.

Long known for one of the highest per capita homicide rates in the world, the tropical island famed for Rasta and reggae has arrested some of its major crime bosses and last year put a dent in its homicide rate.

But the mystery surrounding Mr. Woolmer’s death adds to the violent image of this nation of 2.7 million. “I believe it is too early to say the country is getting safer,” said Anthony Harriott, a professor of political sociology and leading authority on Jamaican crime.

BRAZIL

Lula to air trade with Bush this week

BRASILIA — President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva said on state radio yesterday that he will ask President Bush to help advance global trade talks when he visits Washington this week.

“I will discuss the World Trade Organization with Bush because the WTO’s success depends heavily on the United States.”

The latest round of WTO-linked global trade talks stalled last year after developing countries led by Brazil and India insisted that the United States and other industrial nations lower subsidies for farmers and tariffs on agricultural imports.

Talks have since resumed and trade officials are now trying desperately to conclude the round before June, when a key agreement between the U.S. president and Congress expires. Unless the agreement is renewed, legislators can revise trade deals negotiated by the president, making deals much harder to reach.

Weekly notes …

James Huang, foreign minister of the Republic of China (Taiwan), visited St. Lucia on Friday, despite a lack of diplomatic ties, causing concern in Beijing, which has formal relations with the Caribbean nation, said David Wang, spokesman of the Foreign Ministry in Taipei. He said yesterday that the visit was at the host government’s invitation, to discuss cooperation projects. … Ontario’s lottery operator ignored fraud and handed over millions of dollars to retailers, according to a scathing report yesterday into the suspiciously high number of lucky insiders who have won $86 million in prizes over the past seven years. The province’s ombudsman blasted the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. as “hopelessly conflicted” when it came to dealing with retailer windfalls and customer complaints.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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