Leaders of European Union states were meeting Sunday on a strategy to hold the bloc together, even though some are far poorer than others and unable to offer rescue plans to their troubled industries. The leaders were expected to reject protectionist measures that could divide richer members such as France from eastern states such as Hungary, Bulgaria, and Romania. Still, German Chancellor Angela Merkel strongly opposed the idea of a multibillion-dollar bailout of the poorer states.
Basking in a lavish birthday party in his honor, President Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe said farms confiscated from white landowners "will not be returned" and the few still operating "have no place here." Mugabe also told supporters at the $250,000 event that "I am still in control ... so nothing much has changed," even though his government now is a partnership with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change. New Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai of the MDC didn't attend the party.
Sharia law was agreed to by Somalia's new president Saturday as part of a cease-fire with the Islamist Al Shabaab militia. The decision was reached in negotiations mediated by tribal elders following some of the heaviest fighting in months. It still requires the endorsement of the transitional parliament, which now functions from the safety of neighboring Djibouti. But President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said there was "no problem" from the legislature's point of view if Somalis wanted the strict Islamic law.
Militants who've disrupted almost one-quarter of Nigeria's oil production warned that they will sabotage a planned $10 billion gas pipeline that would help diversify European energy sources. Such industry giants as Royal Dutch/Shell, Total of France, and Russia's Gazprom have expressed interest in participating in the 2,700-mile Trans-Sahara Project, slated to begin operating by 2015. But the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it was "determined" to stop the project "from its inception."
A new round of daily antigovernment protests was planned by Madagascar's opposition leader, beginning Monday and continuing "until we end this dictatorship." Andry Rajoelina did not speak of resuming talks with his rival, President Marc Ravalomanana, although special UN envoy Haile Mankerios said late Friday the two have assured him that they remain committed to resolving their bitter power struggle through negotiations.
Army units in Venezuela were ordered to seize the nation's rice mills, the first such move by President Hugo Chávez since winning a referendum last month that will allow him to run for reelection as often as he wishes. Chávez said mill operators have refused to observe price controls set by his government and that he'd compensate them with bonds rather than cash, in contrast to other industries he has nationalized.
Optimistic government officials on the French Caribbean island of Guadeloupe projected that the general strike – now in its sixth week – would end Monday. But union leaders told the BBC that the shutdown will continue until the spiraling cost of living is addressed, even though they and business owners signed a deal last week that grants low-wage employees a $253-a-month supplement. Among issues yet to be resolved: lower rents for public housing.
Saying, "There's no way around this," German automaker Volkswagen announced over the weekend that all 16,500 of its temporary employees will lose their jobs by year's end. But full-time workers are safe "for the moment," and there are no plans to halt construction of a new assembly plant in the US, it said. If necessary, the automaker said it could shorten the workweek from 35 hours to 28.