World briefs 5/22/05

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Azerbaijani protesters arrested defying rally ban

BAKU, Azerbaijan -- Azerbaijani protesters demanding free elections were beaten back Saturday by police, who arrested dozens as they broke up a banned rally in the oil-rich former Soviet republic on the Caspian Sea four days before the inauguration of a new pipeline. Tension between the government and the opposition in the tightly controlled country has increased since an October 2003 election in which Ilham Aliev replaced his late father, Geidar Aliev, as president in a vote the opposition said was marred by fraud.

Palestinian leader wants more U.S. support

RAMALLAH, West Bank -- Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said Saturday he would demand strong political and financial support in his upcoming talks with President Bush in Washington and did not believe the recent flare-up of violence between militants and Israelis would hurt his case. Abbas said the renewed violence that threatened an already shaky truce with Israel was calming down after three straight days of clashes. Abbas' meeting with Bush at the White House on Thursday could give the Palestinian leader a much-needed boost just as he is about to go head-to-head with top rival Hamas in a parliamentary election, and prepares for the difficult task of taking over Gaza after Israel's planned evacuation this summer.

Son of slain politician rising in Lebanese politics

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- At 35 and presiding over a multibillion-dollar business empire, Saadeddine Hariri was a stranger to Lebanon's intricate and sometimes violent politics. But the massive bombing that killed his father and shook a nation to its core three months ago also thrust him to the political forefront. For Saad, as he's better known here, it has been a crash course in politics since the Feb. 14 assassination of former prime minister Rafik Hariri -- and the political novice is already on a roll as he takes a leading role ahead of parliamentary elections which begin May 29. There is even talk about Saad becoming the next prime minister, though he has not said whether he would seek the job.

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