Barricades and tent camps were being dismantled in Ukraine's capital as satisfied supporters of opposition presidential candidate Viktor Yushchenko abandoned their two-week vigil to press for a new runoff election. To punctuate their successful effort, outgoing President Leonid Kuchma fired his prosecutor-general for failing to investigate voter fraud in the Nov. 21 election. Yushchenko already was campaigning for the second runoff, Dec. 26.

Internal polling indicated that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon would win a crucial vote of his Likud movement on whether he may negotiate with the opposition Labor Party to form a unity government. But the outcome was not expected before the Monitor went to press. Sharon warned that defeat would force an early election that could result in having to abandon his plan for withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.

Advocates of homosexual marriage won a mixed victory in Canada as the Supreme Court ruled that the Ottawa government has the authority to legalize the practice. But the justices stopped short of saying that the Constitution requires it, and they declared that the clergy have the right to refuse to perform same-sex weddings. Four of Canada's 10 provinces have laws against such marriages. It is legal in the rest and in all three northern territories.

Despite newly adopted rules aimed at eliminating voter fraud, supporters of opposition candidate Traian Basescu massed in Romania's capital to protest Sunday's presidential runoff. They claim the Bucharest mayor was cheated out of at least 5 percent of the vote in the first round of balloting Nov. 28, when he finished a close second to Prime Minister Adrian Nastase. The government has insisted that, with a few irregularities, the election was fair.

Saying, "The integration of South America has begun," Peruvian President Alejandro added his signature Wednesday to an agreement with his Brazilian counterpart to build a $700 million, 744-mile paved highway connecting the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. Currently traffic, especially freight-hauling trucks, must use a mostly dirt road and must ford a river on the border, which can't be crossed in the rainy season.

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