- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 27, 2010

FRANCE

U.S. extradites Noriega to France

The U.S. extradited former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega to France on Monday, clearing the way for him to stand trial there on money-laundering charges.

The former strongman, who had been held in a federal prison just outside Miami, was placed on an overnight Air France flight to Paris, according to a Justice Department official who spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to comment on the case.

The flight departed shortly after 6 p.m. Miami time and was expected in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport shortly after 8 a.m. Tuesday local time.

Yves Leberquier, one of Noriega’s attorneys, confirmed his client was headed to France. He said Noriega will be turned over to French prosecutors Tuesday and later taken before a judge who will determine whether he should remain in custody pending further action.

YEMEN

British envoy escapes explosion

SAN’A | The British ambassador in Yemen narrowly escaped a suicide attack Monday, when a young man in a school uniform detonated his explosives belt near the envoy’s armored car in a poor neighborhood of San’a, officials said.

The attack - the first such suicide bombing in the capital in a year - raised questions over the Yemeni government’s U.S.-backed campaign against al Qaeda militants, who have found a haven in parts of the mountainous, impoverished nation where the central government’s control is weak.

A British Embassy spokeswoman said the ambassador, Timothy Torlot, was unhurt in the attack Monday morning, which wounded three bystanders, including a woman.

The ministry identified the bomber as a 22-year old student who hails from the southern town of Taiz.

SUDAN

Bashir re-elected in contested election

KHARTOUM | Sudan’s president won another term in office Monday with a comfortable majority in elections marred by boycotts and fraud allegations, becoming the first head of state to be re-elected while facing an international arrest warrant for war crimes.

President Omar Bashir’s victory was widely expected after his most credible challengers pulled out of the race to protest purported fraud.

It was unlikely to put to rest questions about his standing around the globe and among his opponents or ease Sudan’s isolation. Lt. Gen. Bashir cannot travel freely because he risks being arrested to face charges before the Hague-based International Criminal Court of war crimes committed in Sudan’s western Darfur region.

Sudan’s first multiparty presidential, parliamentary and local elections in 24 years were a key requirement of a 2005 peace deal that ended a 21-year civil war between the predominantly Arab and Muslim north and rebels in the Christian-animist south.

LUXEMBOURG

EU to push for piracy trials in Africa

The European Union’s foreign affairs and security chief will visit Africa next month to press for more help in prosecuting pirates arrested by European warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden, she told a meeting Monday.

Catherine Ashton wants to see the suspects on trial as close to home as possible instead of transported to Europe for prosecution.

An EU armada has detained scores of suspected pirates in recent months, but only a handful will ever wind up in court. The vast majority were disarmed and put back on their boats with enough food and fuel to reach land.

IRAQ

Barring of candidates may alter vote results

BAGHDAD | An Iraqi court disqualified 52 candidates Monday from the country’s parliamentary elections, including one who won a seat, and threw out their votes in a decision that could potentially change the outcome of the March 7 vote.

The winning candidate came from the coalition of secular challenger Iyad Allawi, which won 91 seats compared with 89 seats for a bloc led by incumbent Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, said Saad al-Rawi, a member of the independent commission that oversees Iraq’s elections.

He said a special court tasked with reviewing election-related complaints informed the commission of its decision Monday.

However, Mr. al-Rawi said it was still unclear how the decision would affect the outcome until the commission is able to recalculate the results once those votes have been removed. He said he did not expect the decision to affect the position of Mr. Allawi’s Iraqiya bloc because the barred candidates from his coalition only won a limited number of votes.

BELGIUM

King accepts government’s resignation

BRUSSELS | King Albert II accepted the government’s resignation Monday after negotiations failed to resolve a long-simmering dispute between Dutch- and French-speaking politicians over a bilingual voting district in and around Brussels, the country’s capital.

The king had waited since last week to see if last-ditch talks could keep the coalition government of Prime Minister Yves Leterme together. But late Monday, it became clear the differences between the linguistic groups were too deep. Elections could now be called in early June.

“I regret that the necessary dialogue to achieve a negotiated settlement did not produce the result we hoped for,” Mr. Leterme said in a statement.

The royal palace said that “the king has tasked the government to continue in a caretaker capacity.”

Belgian governments have a long tradition of teetering on the brink of linguistic collapse. For half a century, they have brokered ever more complicated compromises to keep the country from falling apart at the expense of giving the linguistic groups more autonomy. Yet the endless bickering has not stopped the nation from being among the most prosperous in Europe.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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