- The Washington Times - Friday, April 10, 2009


Elections cap democracy decade

JAKARTA | Indonesians flooded polling stations across the sprawling island nation Thursday, capping a decade of democracy in a parliamentary election that will gauge the reform-minded President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s chances of re-election.

Violence flared hours before the first voting booths opened in the easternmost province of Papua, the scene of a decades-long insurgency, killing five, said local police chief Maj. Gen. Bagus Ekodanto.

But nationwide there were no other serious incidents, with long lines forming throughout the day to cast ballots for a new 560-member legislature.

The vote is being closely watched because it will determine who will qualify to run for president in July. Parties or coalitions that win a fifth of the seats — or 25 percent of the popular vote — can nominate a candidate for that race.


Protesters eye East Asian Summit

BANGKOK | Protesters threatened to shift their massive anti-government rally to the seaside East Asian Summit, as authorities vowed Thursday to send in soldiers if needed to assure the safety of 15 heads of state expected to attend.

Leaders of the protest, which swelled Wednesday to 100,000 people in Bangkok, said they were debating whether to travel from the capital to the summit venue in Pattaya, about 90 miles south, to apply more pressure on Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva.

The demonstrators are demanding that Mr. Abhisit resign along with the top adviser to the country’s revered king. The protesters, supporters of exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, accuse the king’s adviser of supporting the 2006 coup that toppled Mr. Thaksin’s government.


Policemen get death sentence

SHAH ALAM | A Malaysian court sentenced two police officers to death Thursday on charges of murdering a Mongolian woman who was blown up with explosives after her yearlong affair with the prime minister’s friend ended in a messy disagreement.

The verdict closes another chapter in a case that has riveted the nation, become fodder for the opposition’s election campaigns and spawned intense public speculation about political conspiracies and sex scandals in high places.

The woman’s former lover, Abdul Razak Baginda, a close aide and friend of Prime Minister Najib Razak, was acquitted last year on charges of abetting her murder.

Mr. Abdul Razak, a married man with a grown daughter, admitted in his defense to having an affair beginning in late 2004.


Olympics plotters put to death

BEIJING | China executed two people Thursday for what a court described as an attempt to sabotage the Beijing Olympics with an attack in the far-west region of Xinjiang that killed 17 police officers, state media reported.

The two were sentenced in December after being convicted of intentional homicide and illegally producing guns, ammunition and explosives, the official Xinhua news agency reported. It gave no additional details.

They were found guilty of carrying out a terrorist attack to “sabotage” the Beijing Olympic Games, Xinhua reported earlier.

The Aug. 4, 2008, attack — four days before the start of the Olympics — took place in the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar near the border with Afghanistan and Pakistan.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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