Radical Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr "will" disband his Mahdi militia if ordered to do so by higher-ranking clerics, an aide said Monday. He said Sadr representatives would consult with revered Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani and with Iranian clerics on the matter. The revelation came after Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, also a Shiite, warned Sadr to disband the force or be barred from "the political process." Sadrists have said the prime minister lacks the power to interfere in elections.Skip to next paragraph
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Justices of Zimbabwe's High Court shrugged off rising political tensions and delayed until Tuesday a decision on whether to order the release of the March 29 presidential election results. With his bid to force the release temporarily thwarted, opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai appealed to the International Monetary Fund to withhold further aid to Zimbabwe unless hard-line President Robert Mugabe "accepts the election results in full and hands over the reins of power." Mugabe, for his part, began campaigning for an anticipated runoff against Tsvangirai, which would have to be held three weeks after the results are announced.
For the first time in seven weeks, the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority were to meet Monday in the wake of fierce violence in the Gaza Strip and the announcement of plans by the Jewish state to expand settlements in disputed areas. The biweekly talks were suspended by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last month after an Israeli offensive in Gaza killed more than 100 people. The two sides have pledged to reach a final peace agreement by year's end, but Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert recently said he doesn't envision more than a broad outline.
Despite UN pleas against further preelection violence, an attacker on a motorbike threw a grenade at a campaign rally in Nepal's capital Monday, wounding at least one person. The incident was the third of its type in four days. Almost 18 million people are eligible to vote Thursday for the assembly that will rewrite the Constitution, setting the kingdom on a new political course. The UN appeal was aimed in particular at the Communist Party, which is participating in an election for the first time. But its leaders reportedly have sought to intimidate voters by claiming they'll be able to find out for whom they cast ballots. They've also vowed to stage massive protests if they think the election was rigged.
A controversial anti-Koran film by legislator Geert Wilders does not violate Dutch law against inciting hatred or violence, a court ruled Monday. Judges said Wilders, as an elected politician, has a right to criticize radical Islam even in ways that are "provocative." The Netherlands Islamic Federation had asked the court to order him to apologize for anti-Islamist remarks and to stop making written, filmed, or spoken comments that are deemed insulting to Muslims.
A teacher and 18 students were hurt when teenagers armed with a machete and baseball bats went on a rampage through a high school in Sydney, Australia, Monday. It was not clear whether the attackers attend the school, but they apparently "were looking for someone in particular" before surrendering, police said. Violence in schools is rare in Australia. Aboriginal elders in Australia said they were "ecstatic" over the discovery in an iron ore mine of stone tools estimated to be at least 35,000 years old. They called for the site, in Western Australia state, to be protected from further mining, and archaeological experts said it could yield more artifacts that are even older. The oldest previous finds in Australia date back about 20,000 years. Aborigines have been waging a legal battle since the early 1990s to reclaim traditional lands.