Tampering with ballot boxes in the recounting of votes from Zimbabwe's March 29 parliamentary election has rendered the process "fatally flawed," an observer said Monday.A legislator from neighboring South Africa said it was clear to her that the recount was being rigged to restore control of parliament to President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF movement. News outlets in Zimbabwe said the recount in 23 races, most of them won by the opposition Movement for Democratic Change, was likely to take all week. Results of the presidential voting still haven't been announced.
More adjustments were being made to the Olympic torch relay Monday as countries across Asia sought to prevent a repeat of anti-China protests.In Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, police detained three people who'd brought a pro-Tibet banner to the start of the relay and reportedly were being heckled and beaten by ethnic Chinese. Indonesia announced a shorter route for the relay than originally planned and said only invited guests could watch. In Japan, three corporate sponsors followed the lead of a Buddhist temple in pulling out of the relay
More residents of Somalia's capital were fleeing Monday after soldiers and Islamist militants engaged in the heaviest fighting in months. At least 85 people were reported killed over the weekend in what analysts said appeared to be a strategy by the Islamists to topple the interim government by spreading Somali and Ethiopian forces thin rather than by capturing and holding territory.
King Gyan-endra of Nepal angrily denied published reports that he'll go into exile now that results of the country's April 10 election have been announced. But he gave no indication whether or when he'll abdicate the throne, even though he no longer holds any powers. Nepal's elections commission said Monday that former communist rebels won 120, or half, of the seats at stake in the Constituent Assembly, which will rewrite the Constitution with a view to converting the country to a republic.
Tensions rose higher still between the ex-Soviet republic of Georgia and the Kremlin Monday over accusations that a Russian jet fighter had shot down an unmanned reconnaissance plane. To back up the claim, Georgian authorities released video footage of the incident, which they said had taken place over the breakaway Abkhazia region. A Russian Air Force spokesman called the accusation "nonsense." Last week, Georgia accused the Kremlin of a de facto annexation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, a second breakaway region.
Former Roman Catholic Bishop Fernando Lugo won the presidency of landlocked Paraguay Sunday, ending the world's longest hold on power by a single political party and ushering in another leftist government in South America. Lugo (above, r., celebrating election victory with his running mate, Federico Franco) defeated Blanca Ovelar, the candidate of the Colorado Party, which has ruled for 61 years. Leftists already hold power in Brazil, Chile, Bolivia, Ecuador, Venezuela, and Argentina.
Critics appeared unimpressed at the announcement of a $100 billion plan by the Bank of England (BoE) to soften the impact of the subprime mortgage problem originating in the US. The BoE said Monday local banks will be given the opportunity to swap mortgage debt on their books at the end of last year for secure government bonds. Local banks have found their mortgage portfolios difficult to sell or trade in the current economic climate. The plan is effective immediately. But analysts called it "prohibitively expensive" and questioned whether it would lead to cheaper mortgages.
US Coast Guardsmen rescued three survivors and were searching for others off Nassau in the Bahamas after a boat carrying migrants from Haiti and Honduras capsized. At least 20 people drowned. Local fishermen alerted authorities to the accident Saturday after hearing screams for help.