Two senior investigators quit the commission probing corruption in the Iraq oil-for-food program, protesting that it has been too soft on UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. To date, the inquiry led by former Federal Reserve chairman Paul Volcker has only faulted Annan's management of the $64 billion program. The investigators were identified as former FBI agent Robert Parton and Miranda Duncan, both Americans. A spokesman for Volcker confirmed that there have been differences among investigators on how to interpret evidence on Annan.Skip to next paragraph
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Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon appeared all but certain to announce a three-week delay in this summer's planned withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, reports said. The postponement, until Aug. 15, was awaiting only the OK of security chiefs. Thousands of Gaza settlers observe a traditional mourning period at that time for the destruction of the biblical Jewish temples. But some Sharon cabinet members have suggested that the delay also is due to incomplete housing preparations for those who will be displaced by the pullout.
Despite his refusal to quit, the president of Ecuador was voted out of office by Congress late Wednesday - the third such removal of a chief executive in eight years. The vote against Lucio Gutierrez followed a week of massive street protests by Ecuadoreans who accused him of abusing his power. Brazil granted asylum to Gutierrez, who was replaced by Vice President Alfredo Palacio.
Reeling from scandal revelations and a series of gloomy opinion polls, Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin was to address the nation Thursday night to try to ease the pressure on his Liberal Party to submit to a national election. Opposition leaders accused him of "diversionary tactics" and said they'd seek equal time to present their positions. The Conservative Party, which has overtaken the Liberals in successive polls, can - if it chooses - call for a vote of no confidence in Martin's government early next month. A new election is considered "virtually inevitable" by all of Canada's political parties, the National Post reported.
Lapsed safety procedures were being blamed for a massive explosion in a factory that made explosives for mines in Zambia's copper belt. Early reports said at least 51 people were killed and 26 others were missing and presumed to have died.