- - Tuesday, January 4, 2011

PAKISTAN

Opposition gives government ultimatum

ISLAMABAD | Pakistan’s main opposition leader gave the government a three-day deadline Tuesday to accept a list of demands if it wants to avert its possible collapse after the loss of its ruling majority in parliament.

The ultimatum by Pakistan Muslim League-N chief Nawaz Sharif could determine the government’s fate since his party has the second-largest number of seats in parliament and would be key in pushing through a no-confidence vote in the prime minister and possible early elections.

Such a scenario became possible when the second-largest member of the governing coalition, the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, joined the opposition on Sunday, depriving the government of its parliamentary majority. It said it was partly motivated by anger over recent fuel price hikes.

Mr. Sharif said the government must reverse the price hikes, cut government expenditures by 30 percent and implement a series of court verdicts against ruling party officials for corruption. He said they must accept the demands within 72 hours and show progress within 45 days.

IVORY COAST

Nigeria leader says no quick solution

ABIDJAN | Nigeria’s president warned Tuesday that a solution to Ivory Coast’s deepening political crisis will take time, after the internationally recognized winner of the election said a military intervention should now be considered to oust the incumbent.

A high-level regional delegation paid renegade leader Laurent Gbagbo a second visit on Monday and urged him to step down, but he rebuffed their appeal. Leaders from the nations of Benin, Cape Verde and Sierra Leone then traveled to Nigeria to meet with President Goodluck Jonathan, the current chairman of the 15-nation regional bloc ECOWAS.

ECOWAS and the African Union later released a statement indicating that Mr. Gbagbo had “agreed to negotiate a peaceful end to the crisis without any preconditions.” But the statement did not elaborate on what actions that would entail other than lifting a blockade around the hotel where his rival is based, and Mr. Gbagbo had not relinquished power Tuesday.

EGYPT

Anti-Christian hate rose before attack

CAIRO | In the weeks before the New Year’s Day suicide bombing of an Egyptian church, al-Qaeda-linked websites carried a how-to manual on “destroying the cross,” complete with videos on how to build a bomb and the locations of churches to target — including the one that was attacked.

They may have found a receptive audience in Alexandria, where increasingly radicalized Islamists have been holding weekly anti-Christian demonstrations, filled with venomous slogans against the minority community.

Only two or three days before Saturday’s bombing at the Mediterranean city’s Saints Church, which killed 21 people, police arrested several Salafi Muslims spreading fliers in Alexandria calling for violence against Christians, a security official said on the condition of anonymity.

MEXICO

Two adults, teen die in drive-by shooting

MONTERREY | Gunmen opened fire on people gathered at a street corner in the northern city of Monterrey, killing two adults and a 13-year-old boy, authorities said Tuesday.

The boy’s twin brother and two men also were wounded in the attack Monday night in a city that has been besieged by fighting between the Gulf cartel and the Zetas drug gang. While authorities had no immediate suspects, Mexican drug cartels have been recruiting younger and younger members.

The government has increasingly detained youths under 18 for drug-related crimes. Last month, authorities arrested a 14-year-old boy who they alleged worked as an assassin for a drug gang in central Mexico.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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