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World in brief

Colombia re-elects president by landslide

Published May 29, 2006

BOGOTA, Colombia - Law-and-order President Alvaro Uribe was re-elected in a landslide Sunday in Colombia's most peaceful elections in more than a decade, strengthening the U.S. ally's mandate to crack down on armed groups and drug traffickers.

The Harvard-educated Uribe's win marks the first time in more than a century that an incumbent Colombian leader has been elected to a second term and bucks a trend of leftist leaders taking office across South America in recent years.

With 96 percent of ballots counted, the conservative Uribe scored a stronger-than-expected 62 percent of the vote, according to official results. He easily surpassed the 50 percent needed to win in the first round and exceeded pre-election expectations.

27,000 East Timorese flee violence caused by disgruntled soldiers

DILI, East Timor - About 27,000 East Timorese were seeking refuge Sunday as gangs terrorized neighborhoods virtually at will, said Robert Ashe, regional representative for the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees.

Foreign peacekeepers dispersed some militants but they quickly regrouped.

The U.N. special representative to East Timor, Sukehiro Hasegawa, said more international peacekeepers may be needed to restore order in Dili, the capital.

A week of bloodshed has killed at least 27 people, raising concerns that East Timor is plunging into a civil war. Four people were killed Sunday.

A Cabinet meeting was scheduled for today amid speculation the government may soon collapse or that Parliament will be dissolved.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has called the violence a plot to overthrow him.

On Sunday, rival gangs torched homes and battled with machetes for a third straight day. The unrest was triggered by the March firing of 600 disgruntled soldiers - nearly half the 1,400-member army.

Comatose former Israeli leader moved to long-term care facility

JERUSALEM - Former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who has been in a coma for nearly five months, was transferred Sunday to a long-term care facility, a sign his medical team does not believe he will awaken.

Sharon, 78, was taken from Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, where he had been since suffering a devastating stroke Jan. 4, to Tel Aviv's Sheba Medical Center.

After several months of treatment, the doctors at Sheba plan to send Sharon home, whether his condition improves or not, said director Dr. Zeev Rotstein.

European Union gets another year to solve impasse over constitution

VIENNA - European Union nations agreed Sunday to give themselves another year to either end a stalemate over the ratification of their constitution or find some other way to enshrine their goals of expanding and exerting greater world influence.

The aim is to enact all or part of the charter by 2009. The constitution aimed to create simplify EU decision-making and give the bloc a president and a foreign minister - selected by the EU governments - to raise Europe's status as a global player.

The phrase "constitution" had rankled many Europeans as being overly ambitious and had stoked fears of an EU superstate.

Man punches Poland's chief rabbi in possible anti-Semitic attack

KRAKOW, Poland - Poland's chief rabbi was attacked in downtown Warsaw in what police said may have been an anti-Semitic attack.

Michael Schudrich, a New Yorker who became Poland's chief rabbi in 2004, was near Warsaw's main synagogue Saturday when a young man yelled "Poland for Poles!"

"That's a well-known pre-World War II slogan, which basically means 'Jews, get out of Poland,' and I didn't like hearing it. So I approached the gentleman to ask him why he said such things and his reaction was to punch me in the chest," Schudrich said. "I was going to hit him back. But before I had a chance to hit him he sprayed me with some kind of spray - maybe pepper spray."

Schudrich said his eyes still burned from the spray but that he was otherwise uninjured. His attacker escaped.

[Last modified May 29, 2006, 06:36:28]

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