World briefs 10/18/04

Monday, October 18, 2004

Karzai's rivals bank on fraud probe

KABUL, Afghanistan -- Hamid Karzai's rivals said Sunday it was too early to call Afghanistan's inaugural presidential election, despite the interim leader's dominant showing after three days of vote-counting. The U.S.-backed incumbent's main challenger, Yunus Qanooni, insisted that a full count and a proper investigation by a panel of foreign experts on fraud allegations could yet put him in the running.

Belarusians scrap presidential term limits

MINSK, Belarus -- Belarusians overwhelmingly approved a referendum on scrapping presidential term limits, the Central Elections Commission announced Monday, allowing the authoritarian leader of this ex-Soviet republic to seek a new term in 2006. Opposition figures claimed that Sunday's vote was rigged in order to allow Alexander Lukashenko, often branded as Europe's last dictator, to stay in power.

Sharon rejects settler demands for Gaza vote

JERUSALEM -- Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday rejected calls from Jewish settlers to hold a nationwide referendum on his plan to withdraw from the Gaza Strip, escalating an increasingly bitter dispute with former allies who now accuse him of leading Israel toward civil war. Sunday's stormy meeting left the two sides deeply at odds as Sharon prepares to present his plan for a parliamentary vote.

Iran: Bullying won't end nuclear program

TEHRAN, Iran -- Iran reiterated Sunday that it won't accept any proposal depriving it of the right to enrich uranium, saying it can't be bullied into giving up its nuclear energy program, state media reported. "Tehran will accept only proposals that meet Iran's national interests and its legitimate right to the peaceful use of nuclear technology," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi was quoted as saying.

-- From wire reports

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