- The Washington Times - Monday, April 27, 2009

ECUADOR

Correa expected to win re-election

DURAN | Ecuadoreans voted Sunday in an election that incumbent President Rafael Correa was expected to win easily, even as the economy flags, because of solid support for his welfare programs.

Polling stations were busy into the afternoon across the volatile Andean country of 14 million people that is known as much for toppling presidents as its Galapagos Islands and remote Amazon tribes.

A Correa win would confirm him as the most powerful leader in Ecuador’s 30-year-old democracy and mark another victory for a generation of left-wing presidents like Venezuelan Hugo Chavez who govern many countries in the region.

An early exit poll seen by Reuters on Sunday gave Mr. Correa 56 percent of the vote and a 27-point lead over his nearest rival.

LEBANON

Clinton backs moderate leaders

BEIRUT | Ahead of an election that could oust the U.S.-backed Beirut government, America’s top diplomat said Sunday that Washington supports “voices of moderation” and never will make a deal with Syria that “sells out” Lebanon’s interests.

The June 7 vote could boost the Iranian-backed Hezbollah and its allies, possibly paving the way for renewed Syrian influence over Lebanon.

“The people of Lebanon must be able to choose their own representatives in open and fair elections, without the specter of violence or intimidation and free of outside interference,” Mrs. Clinton told a news conference after meeting with President Michel Suleiman.

Syria dominated Lebanon for nearly three decades before it was forced to withdraw its tens of thousands of troops four years ago in the wake of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Syria is a main backer of Hezbollah.

IRAQ

Al-Maliki condemns U.S. military raid

BAGHDAD | Iraq’s prime minister, Nouri al-Maliki, denounced a deadly U.S. raid on Sunday as a “crime” that violated the security pact with Washington, and he demanded American commanders hand over those responsible to face possible trial in Iraqi courts.

The U.S. military, however, strongly denied that it overstepped its bounds and said it notified Iraqi authorities in advance — in accordance with the rules that took effect this year governing U.S. battlefield conduct.

The pre-dawn raid in the southern Shi’ite city of Kut ended with at least one woman dead after being caught in gunfire and six suspects arrested for reputed links to Shi’ite militia factions.

The six detainees were released, said Maj. Gen. Read Shakir Jawdat, head of the provincial police sector that includes Kut. At the same news conference, U.S. Col. Richard Francey offered condolences to the family of the woman killed.

CUBA

Holder: Decisions on Gitmo close

LONDON | U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. says the United States is “relatively close” to making decisions on what to do with some detainees at the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

Mr. Holder spoke to the Associated Press during a flight to London, the first of several stops for visits with European leaders to discuss terrorism, drugs and cybercrime.

The attorney general says the administration is close to making decisions on what he called an initial group of Guantanamo detainees, but he did not say how much longer he thought it would take.

In order to close the Guantanamo Bay detention facility in Cuba by President Obama’s January deadline, the U.S. must first decide who to put on trial and who to release to the U.S. or other countries.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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