In a surprise visit to Iraq, Vice President Cheney met with the nation's interim leaders and US troops and appeared to suggest that the election last week for a full-time parliament was a major step toward an American drawdown of forces. The trip came one day after Adnan al-Dulaimi, the chief of a prominent Sunni Arab bloc that is expected to do well in the final tally of election results, said he'd be willing to join a coalition with the governing Shiite United Iraqi Alliance.
Despite the protests and violence outside, World Trade Organization delegates from 149 nations reached agreement on ending farm export subsidies within the next eight years and allowing the poorest countries more access to the markets of the wealthy. Still, delegates from such developing nations as India and Brazil complained of the European Union's refusal to OK 2010 as the cutoff date for the subsidies. Others said they were frustrated that the US and Japan would not accept unfettered trade in textiles and rice. On Saturday, police in Hong Kong arrested 900 demonstrators in the streets outside the WTO meetings and used pepper spray and water cannon to control thousands of others when antiglobalization protests turned violent.
For the second time in less than a week, police discovered a cache of bombs, bombmaking materials, and publications on jihad, or holy war, in a raid on a suspected terrorist safe house in Bangladesh. The suspects sought in the raid escaped, setting off some explosives as they fled, but causing no injuries. The incident came as the government prepared to send new legislation to parliament that would permit the central bank to freeze without notice the account of any person suspected of helping to finance Jamaat-ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh, the outlawed militant organization blamed for the deaths or wounding of at least 150 people in a series of bombings since mid-August. The group is seeking to impose strict sharia law on the nation.
Given the opportunity to vote in a democratic election for the first time in 40 years, Congolese lined up before dawn Sunday to say "yes" or "no" to their troubled country's proposed new constitution. In Kinshasa, the capital, some voters beat on the doors of polling places in their eagerness to be allowed in, even though the text of the draft charter had not been widely seen. Observers from the European Union reported a high turnout in many districts, but there also were reports of violence and attempted intimidation. The referendum is the first step in a process leading to local, parliamentary, and, finally, presidential elections that must be held by next June.
At least 42 people died and dozens of others were hurt as desperate victims of flooding in Madras, India, stampeded in search of relief vouchers from the government. Reports said growing crowds outside had been told to come back later but surged forward when the gates opened to allow a vehicle inside and security guards were unable to stop them. Last month, six other people were killed in an almost identical incident on the city's outskirts. The flood victims had been expecting to receive $45 each in cash, plus coupons that could be exchanged for food.
The party that has held power in Tanzania was declared the landslide winner of last week's presidential election, although two-term incumbent Benjamin Mkapa was not on the ballot. His successor, Jakaya Kikwete, took 80 percent of the vote, the National Electoral Commission said, and the Party of the Revolution also won all but 26 of the 232 seats in parliament that are chosen by voters. Opposition leaders dispute Tanzania's reputation for political stability, calling the nation a de-facto one-party state.