A caretaker government to oversee next January's election was expected to be announced Thursday by Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf. But he appeared no closer to saying when he'd cancel the emergency rule he declared Nov. 3, and his political opponents – already discussing the formation of a coalition – said they'd meet again next week to decide whether to boycott the election. The current parliament's term was to expire Thursday night.
Apparently for the first time, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called publicly for the overthrow of Hamas's leaders. In a speech Thursday, he said, "We have to bring down this bunch ... [who are] abusing the sufferings and pains of our people." Hamas gunmen fired into a rally by Abbas supporters earlier this week in the Gaza Strip, killing eight and wounding dozens of others. Hundreds more were arrested later as Hamas announced plans to curb further public gatherings. A Hamas spokesman said Abbas was "divorced from reality."
Trains and buses were running with slightly greater frequency in some French cities Thursday, although Day 2 of the transport workers' strike was still disrupting millions of commuters. Union leaders were discussing how to respond to a proposal by the government that all sides agree to a month of negotiations to settle their differences. In neighboring Germany, however, passenger train operators joined those in the freight sector in what the national rail service said was its biggest strike yet. Above, a woman waits alone in Dresden for a local commuter train.
Members of parliament in Georgia voted to lift the state of emergency as of Friday night, allowing most TV and radio stations to resume broadcasting and people to gather in public again. But an opposition broadcaster whose license was revoked last week will remain off the air because it is accused of inciting rebellion. Pro-Western President Mikhail Saakashvili blames the Kremlin for instigating the trouble, but Russia's Foreign Ministry mocked that claim Thursday, saying he lives in a "virtual world where he feels free to invent ... horrible threats and dangers."
Hundreds of thousands of Bangladeshis fled to inland shelters Thursday as a Category 4 cyclone made landfall on the low-lying southern coast. Seaports were on the highest alert level, and all possible aircraft had been flown to safer areas. Meteorologists said cyclone Sidr was on a track that also would threaten Dhaka, the capital. Twice since 1970, cyclones have killed hundreds of thousands of people in the coastal zone.
Strong aftershocks rattled northern Chile Thursday, following the powerful earthquake that devastated much of the region. The magnitude-7.7 temblor was blamed for at least two deaths and more than 150 injuries. It also destroyed or damaged about 4,000 houses, and blocked highways. Above, one of the estimated 15,000 people left homeless by the quake awakens in a temporary tent camp.
Opposition members of Congress in Ecuador vowed Thursday to keep working despite the plan by President Rafael Correa to shut it down. It is due to go into recess at year's end, and the leftist leader wants to transfer legislators' functions to a new assembly under a close ally. In their latest act of defiance, the opponents voted to cancel emergency decrees by Correa that divert millions of dollars into social projects.
In a new effort to offset nationwide fuel shortages, Zimbabwe's government gave the go-ahead Thursday to begin operating Africa's first commercial biodiesel plant. The facility produces fuel from sunflower, cotton, and soya seeds. Its output is expected to be great enough to meet demand in at least the vital agricultural sector. The cost of imported fuel has been a major drag on Zimbabwe's already weakened economy.