Whether any more antigovernment protests in Burma (Myanmar) will be permitted appeared in doubt Tuesday. After Buddhist monks and their supporters marched for the eighth straight day, the ruling junta sent 19 truckloads of armed soldiers and police to the center of Yangon, the largest city, and loudspeakers blared threats of "action" against violators of an order forbidding further demonstrations. In 1988, an estimated 3,000 people were killed when the junta moved to quell similar protests. Above, a speaker addresses Tuesday's march.
As expected, a boycott of Lebanon's parliament by Hizbullah prevented a quorum and caused the vote for a new president to be postponed until Oct. 23. The legislature has until late November, when incumbent Emile Lahoud's term expires, to choose a successor. Lahoud is pro-Syrian, and Hizbullah and its allies want to prevent an anti-Syrian candidate from winning. Recent assassinations of anti-Syrians have cut their majority in parliament to 68, not enough for any presidential candidate to win by the required two-thirds vote. Above, posters of the assassination victims are propped up at their empty desks in parliament Tuesday.
A new criminal investigation was authorized into Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's financial dealings, just as opinion polls show a significant rise in his public approval rating. Olmert, already the subject of a probe relating to the sale of a bank two years ago, now is accused of acquiring prime property in Jerusalem for $325,000 below its market value. His approval rating, which languished in the single digits following last year's war in Lebanon, climbed to 35 percent in a recent survey.
Iranian-American activist Ali Shakeri was freed on $110,000 bail from a Tehran prison Thursday, four months after being arrested for attempting to foment revolution. But he may not leave Iran unless permitted to by a judge, court sources said. He is the last of four people who hold dual citizenship to be released after being accused of "endangering national security," while visiting relatives. The incidents worsened already tense relations between Iran and the US.
Leftist President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela will not appear at the opening of the UN General Assembly after all, he said. Chávez, who regularly seeks confrontations with the US, had been due to address Wednesday's session. Last year, he drew condemnation for calling President Bush "the devil" in his speech – a remark that he said was unplanned.
Final appeals by three Islamic extremists convicted for their roles in the 2002 Bali bombings were rejected Thursday by Indonesia's Supreme Court. That leaves a plea for clemency to President Susilo Bambang Yudhyono as their last hope of avoiding execution by firing squad. More than 200 people, most of them foreign tourists, died in the Oct. 12 attacks on Bali night clubs.
An announcement is expected Wednesday that Nepal's largest political force has decided to support abolishing the monarchy. A resolution to that effect by the Congress Party is pending, reports said, although the party and its allies prefer to leave the question of Nepal's political future to a special assembly due to be chosen in November. Inaction on the issue led the former communist rebels, who are demanding that Nepal become a republic, to withdraw from the coalition government last week.
For its advances on social, developmental, and political fronts, Rwanda was named Thursday as the "most improved" country in sub-Saharan Africa by the Ibrahim Index, a foundation established by a Sudanese cellphone magnate. The rankings were compiled using five years' worth of data gathered by the UN, anticorruption watchdog Transparency International, and the Freedom House "think tank."