- The Washington Times - Monday, November 23, 2009

SUDAN

New delay hits election plans

KHARTOUM | Sudan on Sunday announced a six-day delay to long-awaited elections to make up for holdups in registering millions of voters in the oil-producing country.

Election officials have faced huge logistical challenges in rolling out the first multiparty polls in 24 years in Sudan, Africa’s largest country.

Sudan’s National Elections Commission said it was extending voter registration across the country by seven days to Dec. 7 because of a late start in some areas and appeals for an extension from some political parties.

As a result, the start of the ballot would be pushed to April 11 from April 5, said a statement from the commission on the state news agency Suna.

BRAZIL

Protests precede Ahmadinejad visit

BRASILIA | Hundreds of Brazilians are protesting the impending visit of Iranian’s president, citing his calls for Israel’s destruction, his government’s controversial nuclear activities and his declarations against homosexuals.

About 500 people gathered Sunday for the protest at Rio de Janeiro’s Ipanema Beach.

Groups representing gays, Afro-Brazilian artists, Christians, Jews and Holocaust survivors carried protest banners and a giant cage containing white balloons, which they said is a symbol of Iran’s “repressed values.”

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is scheduled to arrive with 200 Iranian businessmen Monday. He will meet privately with Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, who on Sunday called it “an honor” to receive him.

IRAN

War games prepare for U.S., Israel attack

TEHRAN | Iran on Sunday began large-scale air-defense war games aimed at protecting its nuclear facilities from attack, state TV reported, as an air force commander boasted the country could deter any military strike by Israel.

The report said the five-day drill will cover an area a third of the size of Iran and spread across the central, western and southern parts of the country.

Gen. Ahmad Mighani, head of an air force unit in charge of responding to threats to Iran’s airspace, said Saturday that the war games would cover regions where Iran’s nuclear facilities are located.

The drill involves Iran’s elite Revolutionary Guard, the paramilitary Basij forces affiliated with the Guard and army units.

VENEZUELA

Direct talks nixed with Colombia

CARACAS | Venezuela has no interest in talking directly to Colombia to end a monthslong crisis but would support an effort by other South American nations to broker a solution, a top government official said Sunday.

Deputy Foreign Minister Francisco Arias Cardenas said tensions between Caracas and Bogota should be taken up by the Union of South American Nations, a 12-member organization known as Unasur.

Any mediation efforts aimed at easing ongoing tensions between Colombia and Venezuela “must be done within the heart of Unasur,” Mr. Arias Cardenas said during a televised interview.

The diplomat spoke a day after President Hugo Chavez urged civilians to join government-organized militias to be ready to defend Venezuela from a foreign invasion.

Mr. Chavez, a former paratroop commander, said the 300 armored vehicles and Russian war tanks that are due to arrive in Venezuela soon along with radar and air defense systems, will help the country’s military expand its operational capacity.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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