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On the orders of Zimbabwe's Supreme Court, the nominee for junior agriculture minister in the new unity government was freed from prison Thursday on $5,000 bail. Roy Bennett's release was seen as easing tensions between his Movement for Democratic Change and President Robert Mugabe's ZANU-PF organization. Bennettsaid, "The spirit of forgiveness should prevail, and there should be tolerance and understanding among all political parties."

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Despite recurring attacks by Islamist militiamen, the African Union extended the mandate of its peacekeepers in Somalia by three months. But the bloc said it hopes UN peacekeepers will have deployed in the lawless nation by then. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon appeared to cast doubt on that prospect, however, saying in a report to the Security Council that Somalia's political climate raises "uncertainties" about whether such a force is the right way to support the new government's effort to establish itself.

American citizens in Madagascar were "strongly encouraged" to leave by the US Embassy, which said the island nation is "on the brink of civil war." Against that backdrop, Presi-dent Marc Ravalomanana appealed for calm and called on the divided Army to "protect the people and do it with dignity." UN mediators who'd hoped to bring Ravalomanana and opposition leader Andry Rajoelina together for talks Thursday were thwarted when the latter refused to attend.

By an 87 percent to 13 percent margin, members of the Canadian Autoworkers Union agreed to a pay freeze and other concessions that will enable General Motors to qualify for up to $5.4 billion in government loans. But a senior executive of rival Chrysler Corp. told Parliament that the deal wouldn't close even half the gap in labor costs between US and Japanese auto plants in Canada. Chrysler threatened to pull out of Canada unless it is granted $2.3 billion in government aid.

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