A runoff election for president of Zimbabwe will be necessary, the Information Ministry said Thursday. A spokesman said results of the March 29 voting showed that opposition candidate Morgan Tsvangirai of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) had topped incumbent Robert Mugabe, but not by enough to avoid a second round. Citing unidentified sources, CNN reported that Tsvangirai's margin was 47 percent to 43 percent. The MDC claims Tsvangirai won outright on the first round and has rejected participation in a runoff. Official results of the presidential vote still haven't been made public, although it is known that the MDC won control of parliament.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas was resting comfortably and planning an early return to work after an unannounced medical procedure on his heart Thursday, aides said. The test, which was described as precautionary, was performed at a hospital in Jordan and was the second of its type in three years. But analysts said it added new uncertainty to an already difficult peace process with Israel.

Over NATO and Georgian objections, columns of fresh Russian troops and armored vehicles arrived in the breakaway region of Abkhazia Thursday, joining the roughly 2,000 soldiers already deployed there. The Kremlin said the contingent would remain within the size allowed in a 1994 cease-fire brokered by the UN. But it accuses Georgia of preparing to invade the region, which has run its own affairs with Russian help since the truce was signed. Georgia's government denies the claim and has called for the Russians to be replaced by a multinational peacekeeping force.

Clubbing protesters and firing tear gas and water cannons, police in Istanbul, Turkey, broke up what may have been the world's most violent May Day demonstration. Reports said 30 of the thousands of people trying to reach the city's Taksim Square were hurt; 505 others were arrested. The government had banned the rally, rejecting a request to declare a public holiday and asking unions to hold smaller gatherings elsewhere. In 1977, at least 34 people were shot to death in the square on what was then observed as Labor Day. But when the military seized power in 1980, it discontinued the traditional rally, regarding it as an opportunity for leftist activism. Above, an angry demonstrator argues with police officers.

Negotiators for Argentina's farmers and the government postponed until early next week further discussion of unpopular tax increases on exports of agricultural products. Spokesmen for both sides said "a few steps forward" had been made in the areas of beef and wheat, allowing exports of the former to resume. But no progress on rolling back the tax hikes on soybeans was reported. The one-month deadline set by the farmers for resolution of the issue expires Friday, and their spokesman said some form of protest was "highly likely" although it might not be a strike such as the one in March that blocked shipments of meat and produce from reaching markets.

As expected, Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez signed an order Wednesday to nationalize the nation's largest steelmaker, announcing, "We are going to transform Sidor into a socialist company." Sidor, which was majority-owned by Luxembourg investors, had been privatized in 1998. The company reportedly had been seeking $4 billion to sell it back, but Chávez's government estimated its value at $800 million.

The young woman at the center of a sexual abuse scandal in Austria two years ago has donated €25,000 (US $38,780) to the victim and six surviving children involved in the nation's latest case, reports said Thursday. In an interview with the BBC, Natascha Kampusch (l.) also announced the start of a charitable foundation to help the family and appealed for wider contributions. Kampusch was kidnapped en route to school in Vienna in 1998 and spent 8-1/2 years in an underground cell before escaping. Her captor committed suicide.

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.