St. Petersburg Times Online: Business

Weather | Sports | Forums | Comics | Classifieds | Calendar | Movies

Rice urges Haiti toward elections

By wire services
Published September 28, 2005

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti - U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Tuesday that Haitian authorities must move more quickly to prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections set for Nov. 20.

Rice called the elections a potential "new start" for Haiti as the country tries to overcome two decades of democratic failure accompanied by widespread political violence.

She met with Haiti's interim leadership, President Bonaface Alexandre and Prime Minister Gerard Latortue, at the presidential palace after a helicopter trip over the area, where she could see row after row of ramshackle housing.

"Elections can be a very important and precious step along the road to democracy," Rice said at a news conference with Latortue at her side. Calling the vote a "powerful weapon," she urged Haitians to exercise it in November.

The elections are the first since former President Jean-Bertrand Aristide was forced from office in February 2004.

U.S. will leave its base in Uzbekistan

TASHKENT, Uzbekistan - A senior State Department official said Tuesday the president of Uzbekistan made it clear that American forces must leave their air base in the Central Asian country, and the U.S. intends to do so "without further discussion."

The demand came as relations soured following U.S. criticism of Uzbekistan's crackdown on anti-government protesters in May in the eastern city of Andijan.

Engineer may face charges in Concorde crash

PARIS - Five years after a Concorde crashed in flames outside Paris, killing 113 people, France has taken the first step toward prosecuting an official who oversaw the supersonic jets, judicial officials said Tuesday.

Henri Perrier, a former head of the Concorde program, was placed under investigation - a step short of formal charges - for manslaughter and involuntary injury, the officials said. Perrier, 76, served as chief engineer on the Concorde's first test flight in 1969 and directed the Concorde program in the 1980s and early 1990s.

Typhoon strikes Vietnam after killing at least 31

THANH HOA, Vietnam - After killing at least 31 people in China and the Philippines, Typhoon Damrey slammed ashore Tuesday in Vietnam, forcing the evacuation of nearly 300,000 people along the coastal region.

The most powerful typhoon to hit northern Vietnam in a decade injured nine people after it landed in Thanh Hoa province, said Le Van Thao of the National Meteorology Center.

Thanh Hoa is 100 miles south of Hanoi.

© Copyright, St. Petersburg Times. All rights reserved.