The first full session of Iraq's new parliament convened in Baghdad Wednesday, but then adjourned for one week as its No. 1 order of business was postponed. Speaker Mahmoud al-Mashhadani said there was little point in selecting a committee to review and amend the Constitution until after Prime Minister-designate Nuri al-Maliki, a Shiite, has nominated his cabinet choices. Maliki has until May 22 to do so. Sunnis complain that the charter gives too much power to the majority Shiites and are demanding to head the review committee.
New concessions designed to appeal to Darfur rebels are being considered, a spokesman for Sudan's government said Wednesday. He said he expected them to be in the areas of integrating a larger number of rebels into the nation's security forces and in disarming the notorious Janjaweed militia, which the government is accused of unleashing on Darfur's black Muslim civilians. On Tuesday, senior US and British diplomats flew to Nigeria, the venue for the negotiations between the government and the rebels, to try to keep them from collapsing.
Fallout was occurring in all directions Wednesday from the failure of authorities in Serbia-Montenegro to hand over war-crimes fugitive Ratko Mladich to the UN's tribunal for the Balkans. The former Bosnian Serb general is charged with the slaughter of 8,000 Muslims at Srebrenica in 1995. As the deadline for his handover passed, the European Union broke off negotiations with Serbia's government for membership in the bloc. The tribunal's chief prosecutor accused Serbian leaders of misleading her that Mladic was about to be arrested, and Deputy Prime Minister Miroljub Labus resigned, complaining of betrayal of "the most important interest of the country." But the government said it had done "everything in [its] power" to capture Mladic and urged him to surrender.
An emergency meeting of South American leaders was called for Thursday to consider the nationalization of Bolivia's oil and gas sector by new President Evo Morales. A delegation of political and "technical" officials also was ordered to Bolivia by Spain's government to discuss ramifications of the move, which a foreign ministry spokes-man said "does not augur well." Spain's oil and gas giant, Repsol, is one of the two largest investors in Bolivia. In announcing the nationalization Monday, Morales gave foreign energy companies six months to agree to new contracts with his government or be evicted. He also said he intends to extend nationalization to the mining and forestry industries as well as other sectors of the economy.
Tamil rebels were offered the use of special seaplanes by Sri Lanka's government to carry their field commanders to a conference they say is necessary before peace talks can resume. The two sides were to have met last week for a new round of negotiations on strengthening their four-year-old truce. But the rebels backed out, complaining that the government wouldn't meet their demand for safe passage for the field commanders. Violence has since spiraled upward, feeding worry of a return to all-out civil war.
Communist rebels no longer will be referred to as terrorists, the reassembled government of Nepal announced Wednesday. It also said it would seek to withdraw arrest warrants against the rebels' leaders and would reciprocate the cease-fire they declared last week. The moves fulfill a pledge by new Prime Minister G.P. Koirala after King Gyanendra appointed him to the post following three weeks of often-violent protests and a general strike - which the rebels helped to organize and enforce - aimed at achieving a return to democratic rule.
Terrorism was being ruled out in the crash of an Armenian jetliner Wednesday as it attempted a landing in poor weather at the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi. The plane broke apart on impact in the water. It was carrying 113 people, and Armenia's government declared an official day of mourning in their memory. Divers and a deep-sea robot were searching for the remains of victims and debris from the plane, an Airbus A-320.