- - Thursday, April 26, 2012


CAIRO — Egypt’s election commission released on Thursday a final list of 13 candidates eligible to run in next month’s presidential elections, bringing a close to one of the most turbulent chapters of the nation’s chaotic transition to civilian rule.

The list includes Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under ousted President Hosni Mubarak, who was disqualified and then reinstated over a 24-hour period this week.

Also eligible to run are Mr. Mubarak’s longtime foreign minister and former Arab League chief Amr Moussa, and Mohammed Morsi, the candidate of the nation’s most powerful political group, Muslim Brotherhood.

The generals who took power in Egypt when Mr. Mubarak stepped down 14 months ago in the face of a popular uprising have promised to hand over power to a civilian administration by July 1, ending a transition period marred by the use of deadly force by troops and police against pro-democracy protesters, a sharp rise in violent crime and a worsening economic crisis.

The elections are scheduled for May 23-24. If none of the 13 candidates wins more than 50 percent of the vote, a runoff will be held June 16-17 between the two candidates who receive the most votes in the first round.

A winner will be declared on June 21.


France threatens to pull out of borderless Europe

LUXEMBOURG — In the heat of France’s presidential election campaign, the French government insisted Thursday that if the European Union didn’t back its tougher line to fight illegal immigration it would lead to the demise of the continent’s borderless travel zone.

French Interior Minister Claude Gueant said many of the EU nations back the principle of a Franco-German proposal that includes a reintroduction of national border controls for a month, if a country is faced with a sudden surge of illegal immigration.

Some countries, though, had objections over when and how national controls could be reintroduced. Under current rules, the so-called Schengen zone of 26 European nations protects its common outside borders only, and allows free travel inside the member nations.

The system is flawed where borders are at their weakest, allowing for tens of thousands of illegal immigrants to pour into the Schengen zone every year through the Mediterranean coastline or the Greek-Turkish border.


Chavez returns home after cancer treatment

CARACAS — President Hugo Chavez has returned home after 11 days of cancer treatment in Cuba.

State television showed images of Mr. Chavez chatting with his vice president and other aides after arriving at Caracas’ international airport early Thursday.

Mr. Chavez traveled to Cuba on April 14 for radiation therapy treatment. He said earlier this week that he expects to return to Havana soon to undergo more treatments.

The Venezuelan leader began radiation treatment in Cuba in late March after an operation in February that he says removed a second tumor from his pelvic region. The first tumor was taken out in an operation last June.

Mr. Chavez has kept secret some details of his illness, including the type of cancer and the precise location of the tumors. He is seeking re-election in October.


Regime blames rebels for blast that killed 16

BEIRUT — U.N. observers on Thursday inspected the site of a deadly explosion that flattened a block of houses in the central Syrian city of Hama a day earlier and killed at least 16 people.

Syrian state-run media said rebel bomb-makers accidentally set off the explosives, while anti-regime activists said intense shelling by government forces caused the extensive damage.

It was impossible to independently verify the conflicting accounts because President Bashar Assad’s regime, facing a 13-month-old uprising, has restricted access for journalists and other outside witnesses.

The spokesman for U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan, Ahmad Fawzi, said observers visited the site, but there was no immediate word on what they saw.

• From wire dispatches and staff reports

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