Embattled Prime Minister Ariel Sharon disbanded Israel's parliament and called a new national election for Jan. 28, conceding that he could not rebuild a coalition government in the current political climate. The move leaves the major parties, Sharon's Likud and the opposition Laborites, with less than three months to campaign at a time when the US is widely expected to begin a military assault on Iraq. Sharon, however, did succeed in luring his rival for Likud leadership, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu into the caretaker government as foreign minister. Netanyahu pledged to "help as much as I can until the elections."
The political maneuvering came within hours after another Palestinian terrorist killed himself and two Israelis by detonating a bomb at an open-air market in a Tel Aviv suburb. Fifteen other people were hurt. The bomber was identified as a member of Islamic Jihad, although no responsibility for the attack had been claimed as the Monitor went to press.
The leaders of the ruling Communist Party in China set the stage for Friday's opening of their congress by approving an amendment to their charter that would admit capitalist entrepreneurs into membership. The controversial measure now will go before the 2,120 delegates to the session, which is held every five years. It is the proposal of President Jiang Zemin, who is expected to step down at the meeting, along with Premier Zhu Rongji and Li Peng, the chief of the National People's Congress, or parliament.
Hard-line Islamic parties and a coalition of pro-democracy groups agreed to field a single candidate for prime minister of Pakistan. The move, coming almost a month after the nation's Oct. 10 election, is aimed at cobbling together a majority in parliament. The candidate was not identified, although speculation centered on fundamentalist and pro-Taliban cleric Maulana Fazlur Rehman. The election gave President Pervez Musharraf's allies in the Pakistan Muslim League the most seats, but not enough to form a government on their own.
Sixteen people were hurt in street violence in Venezuela's capital as supporters of controversial President Hugo Chávez tried to keep opponents from delivering 42 boxes of signed petitions demanding a Dec. 4 referendum on his rule to the National Election Council. Security forces at first stood by as the pro-Chávez group pelted the opposition march with rocks and bottles. But they later fired tear gas to disperse the demonstrators. State TV had broadcast calls for the petition march to be allowed to proceed peacefully, and critics said the fact that it didn't showed Chávez cannot control his own backers.