- The Washington Times - Monday, December 29, 2008

GUINEA

Coup leaders demote generals

CONAKRY | The leaders of a recent coup in Guinea have said on state-run radio that all generals of the former regime are being demoted.

The declaration read by coup spokesman Nouhou Thiam named more than 20 military heads, including the officers that ran the country’s army, navy and air force. The list also includes security force chiefs.

He said the demotions were effective immediately and added that the military heads of the former regime will be reassigned to other jobs in the army.

Last Tuesday’s coup was staged a day after the death of Lansana Conte, who ruled Guinea for 24 years. It was led by junior officers who considered their superiors corrupt.

BOSNIA-HERZEGOVINA

Santa Claus ban riles Muslims too

SARAJEVO | Hundreds of Bosnians have protested against a recent ban on Santa Claus in the city’s kindergartens.

The directors of Sarajevo’s day-care centers, kindergartens and preschools banned Santa. They argued that the capital is predominantly Muslim and Santa Claus is not part of the Muslim tradition.

A multireligious mix of parents, children and others blew whistles on a downtown square Sunday and requested Santa be restored to the children. Many protesters wore Santa Claus hats.

Santa is known locally as Father Frost and has given out presents to generations of Bosnian children in schools, kindergartens and other institutions.

THAILAND

Protests resume against new leader

BANGKOK | Thousands of supporters of Thailand’s exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra began converging on Parliament on Sunday, vowing to stage demonstrations until the new government holds elections.

But the group said it would not block lawmakers from entering Parliament on Monday, easing fears that the country was in for a repeat of the mass demonstrations that paralyzed the government for months and culminated in an eight-day seizure of the capital’s airports by yellow-clad protesters.

This time, it was Thaksin loyalists instead of his opponents who took to the streets.

Warong Dechgitvigrom, a spokesman for the ruling Democrat Party, said party representatives would go together to Parliament on Monday morning and if it was blocked they would return to party headquarters. He said the government did not plan to force its way into the building.

SPAIN

Pro-family Catholics take Mass en masse

MADRID | Tens of thousands of people attended a Mass in central Madrid on Sunday designed to promote traditional family values in a predominantly Roman Catholic country that has legalized gay marriage and made it easier for people to divorce.

The service began with a message from Pope Benedict XVI.

“Dear families, do not let love, openness to life and the incomparable links that join your homes weaken,” the pope said in a message read out in Madrid. “The pope is by your side,” the pontiff added.

Spain’s Socialist government has angered the church by legalizing gay marriage, making it easy for people to divorce and instituting a public school course in which children learn about homosexuality and same-sex marriages.

TURKEY

Rebel strongholds bombed in Iraq

ANKARA | Turkish warplanes bombed Kurdish guerrilla targets in northern Iraq in operations carried out Saturday and Sunday, Turkish army sources told Reuters news service.

They said Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in the Hakurke region in northern Iraq were hit Saturday night and several other targets near the Iraqi-Turkish border were bombed Sunday afternoon.

They said the Turkish army also was carrying out operations against mobile PKK groups spotted inside Turkey near the Iraqi border.

There was no mention of casualties caused by the strikes.

SOMALIA

President to quit office

MOGADISHU | Somalia’s president will resign Monday to try to end government infighting before the country’s Ethiopian allies leave, a senior ally said Sunday in the latest in a series of conflicting statements on the leader’s future.

President Abdullahi Yusuf will address a special session of parliament to announce his retirement from politics, said Abdirashid Sed, a confidant of Mr. Yusuf and the most senior figure to comment so far on the president’s plans.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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