World

A leading Sunni Muslim cleric was shot to death in Mosul, Iraq, by a masked assailant Monday, giving followers another potential reason for boycotting the scheduled Jan. 30 national election. The victim was a member of the Association of Muslim Scholars, which has called on Sunnis not to participate in the vote. Still, interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi insisted in an interview with the Associated Press that the election would take place on schedule. He described those calling for a boycott as "a small minority" and as "the eventual losers."

Verification of whether Iran has, in fact, halted all activity related to the production of weapons-grade uranium should come Thursday, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei said. The Tehran government announced in a radio broadcast that it had complied with the terms of a deal reached earlier this month with European negotiators to suspend uranium enrichment, despite the position of the US that it's secretly pursuing the development of nuclear weapons. In Vienna, IAEA officials said they were working on a draft resolution to be sent to the UN Security Council that would not recommend economic sanctions against Iran. The IAEA board meets Thursday to consider the issue.

Palestinian leaders urged visiting Secretary of State Powell to ensure the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank in time for the scheduled Jan. 9 election for a successor to Yasser Arafat. And, in his discussions with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the latter stopped just short of pledging such a pullout. Sharon did, however, say that Palestinians would have "freedom of movement" for the election, which, he added, was in Israel's interest. Above, in Jericho in the West Bank, registrars show Powell how they log Palestinian voters.

Saying, "We will not leave this place until we win," opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yuschenko urged thousands of supporters to bottle up Kiev, Ukraine's capital, in protest against the alleged rigging of Sunday's runoff election. With vote-counting almost complete, the Elections Commission said Prime Minister Viktor Yanu-kovych, the hand-picked candidate of outgoing President Leonid Kuchma, had a 49.4 percent to 46.7 percent lead. But Western monitors said the voting was marred by fraud, and Kiev's city council called on parliament not to recognize the results.

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