- The Washington Times - Monday, September 1, 2008


Libya blamed for missing cleric

BEIRUT | Several thousand people joined a rally in Lebanon on Sunday to mark 30 years since Shi’ite leader Mussa Sadr vanished without a trace in Libya, with the circumstances of his disappearance as mysterious as ever.

Sheik Sadr, who founded the opposition Amal movement now led by parliament speaker Nabih Berri, would have been 80 this year and is still regarded by the Lebanese Shi’ite community as their key spiritual guide.

Lebanon last week issued an arrest warrant for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi over the disappearance of the imam on Aug. 31, 1978, while he was in Tripoli with two companions, who vanished with him.

Libya has denied involvement in Sheik Sadr’s disappearance, saying he left Libya for Italy. But the Italian government has always denied that he ever arrived there.


Election expected to be called soon

TORONTO | Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper has scheduled a meeting with main opposition leader Stephane Dion for Monday, Mr. Dion’s office said, adding to signs that a general election could be called within days.

Mr. Harper had asked to meet the three main opposition leaders to determine whether they would work with his minority Conservative government through the fall.

Jack Layton, head of the leftist New Democratic Party, and Gilles Duceppe, leader of the separatist Bloc Quebecois, both came away from meetings with Mr. Harper in recent days convinced that the prime minister was determined to go to the polls.

A key adviser to Mr. Harper has already pointed to Oct. 14 as a likely date for a general election.

Political analysts have said the most likely outcome of an election is another minority government.


Extremists in court in aid official’s death

KHARTOUM | Five Sudanese men accused of killing a U.S. aid worker are religious extremists who plotted to attack foreigners at New Year’s Eve gatherings, Sudanese prosecutors told a court on Sunday.

The five defendants chanted “God is great” as they walked into the East Khartoum court and were greeted by a crowd of supporters who shouted religious slogans and “Down, down, USA.”

All five men wore beards and traditional white gowns, and a Reuters reporter at the court saw two of them spit in the faces of two Western female journalists before walking into the building with iron shackles on their ankles.

John Granville, a 33-year-old officer with the U.S. Agency for International Development, was fatally shot while returning home from New Year’s celebrations in Khartoum early on Jan. 1. His driver, Abdelrahman Abbas Rahama, 39, was also killed.

Mr. Granville was the first U.S. government official to be killed in Khartoum in more than three decades.


Dalai Lama set for hospital discharge

BOMBAY | The Dalai Lama will leave a Bombay hospital on Monday after undergoing tests for abdominal discomfort, his spokesman said Sunday.

Spokesman Tenzin Takla declined to comment on the results of the tests.

“He is feeling well. He will be discharged tomorrow,” the spokesman said.

The Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader flew to Bombay on Thursday and was admitted to Lilavati Hospital with what his advisers said was exhaustion.

Since the March outbreak of violence in Tibet, China has stepped up its campaign to vilify the Dalai Lama, blaming him for the unrest, which Beijing says was part of a campaign to split the Himalayan region from the rest of China.

The Dalai Lama has denied the allegations, saying that he only seeks greater autonomy for Tibet to protect its unique Buddhist culture.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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