Barring a last-minute hitch, the new prime minister of Iraq, the president, and two vice presidents are to be announced Wednesday in parliament. All advance indications were that the leadership will be ethnically and politically balanced, with Ibrahim Jaafari, a Shiite Muslim, replacing interim Prime Minister Iyad Allawi as head of government. Senior Kurdish leader Jalal Talabani will become president, a largely ceremonial post, and the vice presidencies will be shared by another Shiite and a Sunni Muslim. Respected political sources said interim President Ghazi al-Yawar would be the probable Sunni choice.
For the first time, the government of Thailand appealed to Bangkok residents to be on alert for "anything suspicious" as suspected Islamic terrorists widened their campaign of violence in areas south of the capital. An assistant village chief was assassinated in a drive-by shooting in Songkhia Province Tuesday, the third straight day of attacks. In Washington, the State Department warned Americans against travel in the region due to the increasing violence.
As expected, Prime Minister Tony Blair announced that Britain's next general election will be held June 5, triggering a rush by political parties to campaign for votes. Opinion polls suggest the election may be the closest in more than a decade, with Blair's Labour Party ahead of the opposition Conservatives by no more than three percentage points - or even slightly behind - largely due to perceptions that the prime minister has too close a relationship to President Bush and has exerted little influence over the conduct of the war in Iraq, which is widely unpopular among Britons.
Three more terrorist suspects died in a shootout with police in central Saudi Arabia as a siege of their hiding place entered its third day. Their deaths brought to 10 the number of casualties, although security forces said those remaining have refused to surrender. They also would not confirm reports that two of the dead were among the nation's most-wanted criminals. Thirty-five police reportedly have been wounded in the gun battles, but an Interior Ministry spokesman said: "We can wait them out; we are not in a hurry."
New protests against the government erupted in Egypt, drawing hundreds of police to the gates of universities across the nation to keep the demonstrators on campus. Angry students, estimated to number about 10,000, denounced efforts in parliament to water down the constitutional amendment ordered by President Hosni Mubarak to allow rivals to challenge his run for reelection later this year. His government tolerated political demonstrations after that announce- ment in February, but has since cracked down on them.