Radical Iraqi Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr ordered his followers to hold a 1 million-strong demonstration next Wednesday, the anniversary of the US takeover of Baghdad. The Interior Ministry pledged not to block it as long as it remains peaceful. But Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said his government would conduct more security crackdowns such as the one last week in Basra. He didn't mention Sadr's Mahdi militia but did cite the Baghdad neighborhood that bears the cleric's family name.Skip to next paragraph
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With official results of Zimbabwe's presidential election still to be released, senior aides to incumbent Robert Mugabe confidently predicted he'll win a runoff April 19. But the respected Business Day newspaper in neighboring South Africa said it had been told Mugabe has conceded to family members and advisers that he'd lost to opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change and was considering whether to forgo a runoff. The newspaper said, however, that hardliners in his government want him to contest the race to the bitter end.
In an angry new retort to South Korea's president, rival North Korea said Thursday that it was ready for "an advance preemptive attack" and was "compelled to suspend all dialogues and contacts" between them. After a week of increasingly harsh rhetoric, South Korean President Lee Myung Bak had urged the North's government to change its tone and return to reunification talks.
Striking farmers in Argentina decided Wednesday to return to work. But their leaders said they were giving President Cristina Fernandez a reprieve of "no more than 30 days" unless her government negotiates a rollback of export tax increases on soybeans, wheat, corn, and beef that, the producers claim, do not allow them to make a profit. Fernandez so far has refused to consider rescinding the hikes.