World briefs 2/24/04

Tuesday, February 24, 2004

Conservatives take control in Iran

TEHRAN, Iran -- Conservatives formally reclaimed control of Iran's parliament Monday after disputed elections that were boycotted by reformists who called the vote a "historical fiasco" that denied citizens a free choice. Candidates considered loyal to Iran's Islamic rulers took at least 149 places in the 290-seat parliament, which has been controlled by pro-reform lawmakers since their landslide win four years ago. Reformers and self-described independents had taken about 65 seats, according to Interior Ministry figures. The final count is expected today.

Palestinians present case to world court

THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- Palestinians presented an impassioned case to the world court Monday against the Israeli separation barrier in the West Bank, while Israel appealed to world opinion to ignore the proceedings it called inherently unfair. The International Court of Justice began three days of oral hearings on the legality of the barrier slicing through Palestinian territory, bringing Israel's occupation policies before an international tribunal for the first time. But the United States and Europe joined Israel in staying away.

Ugandan forces pursue rebels who killed civilians

LIRA, Uganda -- Government forces swept through villages in northern Uganda on Monday in pursuit of rebels who killed more than 200 unarmed civilians seeking shelter at a refugee camp. The army clashed with a small group of rebels of the Lord's Resistance Army on Sunday. The rebels raided Barlonyo camp north of the town of Lira late Saturday, shooting people as they fled and burning others in their mud and grass huts. It was one of the worst attacks in recent years by the shadowy group, which has been fighting the Ugandan government for 17 years.

Vatican official: No papal visit to Russia today

MOSCOW -- The Russian Orthodox Church remains firm in its objections to a visit by Pope John Paul II, a top Vatican envoy said Monday before ending a six-day trip aimed at easing tension. The trip by Cardinal Walter Kasper, head of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, was the highest-level visit by a Roman Catholic representative in four years. Overcoming divisions among Christians has been a main goal of John Paul's papacy, and he is especially eager to visit Russia, but attempts to defuse differences between the Vatican and the Russian Church have stalled. Russian Patriarch Alexy II has said that no visit by the pope can be made until the disputes are resolved.

-- From wire reports

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