In a nationally televised news conference, Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari flatly refused to step aside Wednesday, a move that analysts said points to continued deadlock in the effort to form a unity government. Jaafari said he still enjoys the support of the dominant Shiite bloc in parliament, which, under the new Constitution, has the first crack at the prime ministership. Kurds and Sunnis, who have refused to serve in a government led by Jaafari, blame him for the rise in sectarian tensions. He won nomination for a new term by one vote following last December's national election.
As expected, the most senior court in Italy confirmed the election victory of Romano Prodi over Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, a TV news channel reported. Release of the final, official tally from the April 9-10 balloting was not scheduled to be made public until late in the day. But it is expected to show that Prodi's forces won in the lower house of Parliament by a margin of just 24,000 votes and that they will have only a two-seat majority in the upper house. Berlusconi still was refusing to concede defeat, but reports said many of his allies have been preparing to assume the role of the opposition in the legislature.
Antigovernment demonstrations in the capital of Bangladesh turned violent Wednesday as an estimated 15,000 critics of Prime Minister Khaleda Zia fought with riot police, who were ordered to keep them away from her residence. Dozens of people were reported hurt and the home of one senior politician was ransacked. The protest was called by the opposition Awami League, which is demanding the resignation of Zia's government, lower prices for essential commodities, and voting reforms before next year's national election.
Almost 200 more police and soldiers from Australia were flown to the Solomon Islands Wednesday and almost immediately began patrolling the capital, Honiara. The move became necessary after rioting worsened on Tuesday, leaving at least 19 peacekeeping police from Australia and New Zealand injured and most of the city's Chinatown section in flames. Asians, who own most of the businesses, are widely seen as supporters of newly chosen but controversial Prime Minister Snyder Rini. The rioters appear to believe that Rini, who was being protected at an undisclosed location, would be heavily influenced by the Chinese.
A confrontation loomed between 18 South Korean patrol boats and surveyors aboard two Japanese vessels sent to map a group of rocky islands claimed by both nations. South Korea's foreign minister warned that "responsibility for all problems caused by this lies with Japan." A spokesman for Japan's cabinet said his government had sought a "harmonious solution" to the matter but that its right to survey the islands was protected by international law and that the study would proceed "calmly." South Korea already has mapped the islands as part of what Japanese officials say is an effort to rename their location, the Sea of Japan, as the East Sea.
With a handshake at the border, the presidents of El Salvador and Honduras formally ended a centuries-old and periodically violent territorial dispute. The most notable clash involved the so-called "Soccer War" in which thousands of people were killed after a 1969 World Cup qualifying game between their national teams. Finally, the International Court of Justice ordered a new demarcation of 230 miles of contested territory, with 69 percent of it assigned to Honduras.
Due largely to favorable weather, the famous white sand beaches of Cancún, Mexico, have been fully restored ahead of schedule, the nation's tourism chief declared. Rodolfo Elizondo presided Tuesday over the final stage of a $19 million dredging project to replenish the strand in from the resort city's hotel zone with sand blown away last Oct. 21 by hurricane Wilma. President Vicente Fox had set an April 30 deadline for completion of the project.