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World in brief

Brazil calls out soldiers for Carnival

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published March 1, 2003

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil -- Celebrants of Rio's Carnival were joined by 3,000 heavily armed Brazilian soldiers Friday.

Officials asked for troops to suppress drug-trafficking gangs they feared would try to disrupt the celebration, which drew 388,000 tourists.

This week, drug gang members burned city buses, hurled homemade bombs, engaged police in running gunbattles and closed down businesses. At least 10 people died. The mobs said they were protesting the treatment of the city's imprisoned drug boss, Luiz Fernando da Costa.

Third time the charm for new Czech president

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Czech lawmakers narrowly elected opposition candidate Vaclav Klaus as president Friday, in the nation's third attempt to choose a successor to Vaclav Havel.

Klaus won 142 votes in the 281-member parliament, barely surpassing the simple majority needed. Ruling coalition candidate Jan Sokol received 124 votes, said Lubomir Zaoralek, speaker of the lower chamber of parliament.

Havel's last term in office ended Feb. 2. The dissident playwright, who led the 1989 Velvet Revolution that peacefully toppled the Communist regime, was barred by the Constitution from seeking a third term.

New coalition takes power in Austria

VIENNA, Austria -- Backed by Joerg Haider's anti-immigrant party, a conservative-led coalition assumed governing power Friday in Austria.

It's the second attempt by Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel's People's Party to lead Austria alongside the far-right Freedom Party. The previous coalition collapsed in September after an internal struggle within the Freedom Party prompted key party members to resign.

Elsewhere ...

EAST TIMOR: A U.N.-led panel indicted a militia leader, East Timor's former police chief and 47 others Friday on charges of crimes against humanity during violence that swept the territory in 1999.

IRAN: For the first time in two decades, liberal dissidents were on the ballot for Iran's local elections Friday in a vote many say will reflect the public's frustration over undelivered reforms by the government. An estimated 70 percent of the country's 41-million eligible voters turned out. Results are expected by Sunday.

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