Followers of radical Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr trickled in to police stations on the first day set aside for a handover of their weapons, and most of those surrendered appeared to be old or rusted. The transfer is due to last five days, after which the interim government has promised to free Sadr followers from jail, provided they haven't committed crimes. Meanwhile, amid another rash of car-bomb explosions, terrorists decapitated Briton Kenneth Bigley and threatened the same fate for a Turkish hostage unless all of his countrymen leave Iraq by Wed-nesday.
In an about-face, the chief rival of interim President Hamid Karzai ended his boycott of Saturday's historic election in Afghanistan and said he'd accept the formation of an independent commission to investigate alleged voter fraud. Yunus Qanooni said some - although not all - of Karzai's 15 rivals would do the same because, "The people want it, and we appreciate their feelings." Millions voted, and an independent umbrella group of poll-watchers said the process was mostly fair, despite a controversay over ink applied to the fingers of all participants to keep them from returning. It was supposedly indelible, but in many cases was wrongly applied and washed off easily.
Newly reelected Prime Minister John Howard of Australia refused to comment on speculation that he does not intend to serve a full term. But he emphasized that the nation's troop level in Iraq will remain unchanged. Saturday's election gave his Liberal/National Party coalition an increased majority in Parliament that analysts said makes it more probable that he'll be successful in pushing an agenda that focuses on toughening national security policy.
An ex-Army colonel won a runoff election for president of war-weary Somalia. But in a sign of ongoing instability, people gathered in the capital to celebrate the news were sent fleeing by disgruntled gunmen. The vote itself was held in neighboring Kenya for security reasons. Abdullahi Yusuf's election is the 14th attempt to bring peace to Somalia, whose infrastructure has been destroyed by years of civil war.
A Western-educated dancing teacher was expected to be chosen as the next king of Cambodia after parliament unanimously OK'd the retirement of monarch-for-life Norodom Siha-nouk. Sihanouk said last week he's too ill to continue, although the Constitution forbids abdication of the throne. Parliament passed a new law, quickly approved by the nation's highest court, setting up a process for succession, and Sihanouk's son, Norodom Sihamoni, who's regarded as nonpolitical, appears to be his probable successor.