World

"Even today," Iraq apparently hasn't accepted the UN's mandate for disarmament, chief weapons inspector Hans Blix told the Security Council. Blix harshly criticized the Baghdad government for not giving sufficient evidence of its weapons programs and said three questions remain unanswered:

• How much banned, but undeclared, weapons material remains intact in Iraq;

• What, if anything, was illegally produced or procured;

• How future Iraqi weapons programs can be prevented.

He did not seek more time for his inspectors. But in a follow-up report, Mohamad ElBaradei of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency did. ElBaradei said no evidence has been found that Iraq still has a nuclear weapons program.

Price controls on basic commodities will be imposed to help poor Venezuelans, embattled President Hugo Chávez announced. He said the measures - on milk, bread, meat, rice, baby formula, and other items - were needed to offset new limits on trading in foreign currencies. Meanwhile, Chávez opponents said they'd begin a new petition drive Sunday with the aim of cutting his term from six years to four and replacing legislators loyal to him. Last week, the Supreme Court indefinitely postponed a referendum on his rule, although petitions proposing it carried more than the required number of signatures.

An elderly and ailing dissident Muslim cleric will be freed from house arrest in Iran Tuesday, a government source said. Once in line to become supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri fell out of favor in 1997 after criticizing the hard-line clerical hierarchy for human rights abuses. According to relatives, he did not seek leniency, but analysts said the hard-liners worried that he'd become a new lightning rod for antigovernment protests if he died while under arrest.

Palestinians will be banned from entering Israel Tuesday as voters choose a new government. All signs point to victory for Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's Likud Party, and he pointedly delivered his closing campaign speech in Haifa, whose mayor, Amram Mitzna, is his challenger. Final opinion polls show Likud may win as many as 33 seats in parliament, to perhaps 18 for the main opposition Labor Party.

Gangs of youths carried the protest against Ivory Coast's new peace deal into a third straight day, blocking streets in Abidjan, its major city, brandishing machetes and roughing up foreigners who were pulled from their cars. The protesters were searching for French nationals or persons from neighboring countries accused of supporting the dissident Army troops who mutinied last September. The deal, brokered by France, angers the protesters because rumors say it calls for leaders of the mutineers to take over the defense and internal security ministries in a new power-sharing government.

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