Kim watches game, official media says
SEOUL | North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has watched a soccer game, official media said Sunday amid mounting speculation about the state of his health.
The Korean Central News Agency did not say when Mr. Kim watched the match between two army teams.
After watching the match, Mr. Kim congratulated the players on their success in the match, expressing “great satisfaction over a high level of the game played by them,” the agency said, adding that the leader watched the game along with senior army and communist party personnel.
The report was the latest in a series apparently aimed at suggesting that the leader is well, after widespread foreign reports that Mr. Kim, 66, suffered a stroke in mid-August.
Ex-prime minister seeks to return
BANGKOK | Ousted Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, sentenced last month to two years in jail for breaking a conflict-of-interest law, urged his supporters on Saturday to help bring him home from exile in Britain.
Mr. Thaksin, who jumped bail to London in August, said that the case against him was politically motivated by his opponents and that the jail term was meant to keep him out of the country’s political arena for at least 10 years.
“Nobody can bring me home except their majesties’ graciousness or the will of the people,” Mr. Thaksin said in a 10-minute telephone call from Hong Kong to tens of thousands of supporters in red shirts at a Bangkok stadium.
“The jail term means I have to be on the run for 10 years, but I want to ask my fellow citizens if they really want me out of the country that long,” Mr. Thaksin said as 40,000 people from across the country shouted supportive slogans at the stadium.
ANC dissidents meet to prepare new party
JOHANNESBURG | Thousands of dissidents in the African National Congress (ANC) met Saturday to pave the way for a new South African party in a bitter split from the movement that led the anti-apartheid struggle.
The convention, coming just months before general elections, marks a dramatic shake-up in South Africa’s politics, which has been dominated by the ANC since the end of apartheid in 1994, when it brought Nelson Mandela to the country’s presidency.
The rift within the party broke into the open after the ANC leadership decided to force Mr. Mandela’s successor, Thabo Mbeki, to resign as president in September, months before the end of his mandate.
An overflow crowd of nearly 7,000 people showed up for the convention, organizers said.
Pro-Putin youths to hunt illegals
MOSCOW | Members of the youth wing of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party on Saturday launched a campaign against illegal immigration under the theme: “Our money for our people.”
The Young Guard said it would start patrolling the country’s dockyards in search of illegal immigrants, while also organizing work grants for Russians struggling in the current economic downturn.
For the launch, about 30 Young Guard members protested outside the federal immigration department in Moscow, urging a curb on the number of immigrant workers, Russian news agencies reported.
From wire dispatches and staff reports