April 5, 2006 in Nation/World

Prime minister says he’s quitting

The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

(Full-size photo)

Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, faced with the threat of continuing public protests against his leadership, announced Tuesday that he would resign his post despite his party’s victory in parliamentary elections Sunday.

The surprise announcement was an abrupt turnaround for Thaksin, who had sought for months to maintain power despite allegations that he had abused his position to enrich himself and his family.

Thaksin said Tuesday night that he would remain as caretaker prime minister until a new government could be formed, a process clouded by uncertainty because of the boycott’s success in preventing 38 parliamentary seats from being filled.

Nairobi, Kenya

U.N. reports crisis in Darfur worse

The conflict in Sudan’s western Darfur region has worsened, with 200,000 additional people being forced from their homes, a top U.N. envoy barred from visiting the zone by Sudanese authorities said Tuesday.

Jan Egeland, U.N. undersecretary-general for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief, said Sudanese government officials had denied his U.N. aircraft permission to overfly Darfur in order to visit Sudanese refugees in neighboring Chad. A day earlier, they had barred him from visiting the capital, Khartoum, and the Darfur region.

“Many believe the problems are over in Darfur. They are getting worse,” he told journalists in Kenya after leaving southern Sudan.

At least 200,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in the last four months because of the violence, he said.

Fighting in Darfur has left about 180,000 dead – most from disease and hunger – and displaced another 2 million from their homes.

United Nations

No nations willing to take in Taylor

The U.N.-backed court that would prosecute former Liberian President Charles Taylor has run into trouble trying to persuade any government to either imprison him or give him asylum once the trial ends, diplomats said Tuesday.

The diplomats said the main concern was deciding where to send Taylor if he is acquitted on 11 counts alleging war crimes and crimes against humanity during Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war. Sweden is the likely candidate to imprison him if he’s found guilty, but is otherwise reluctant, they said.

The issue of where to send Taylor has become a pressing one because the U.N. Security Council agreed not to pass a resolution transferring his trial to The Hague, Netherlands, until a deal is arranged.

Manama, Bahrain

Cruise boat captain held, facing charges

Prosecutors leveled involuntary manslaughter charges against a cruise boat captain and his assistant after their vessel capsized off Bahrain’s coast last week, killing 58 people, officials said Tuesday.

They also said the owner of the boat, Abdullah al-Kobaisi, had been ordered held amid allegations that he ordered the vessel to sail even though it was reportedly unsteady and was not properly licensed.

The Al-Dana – a traditional dhow vessel refitted as a pleasure boat – overturned Thursday night as it made a sharp turn with around 130 people on board, mostly Indian and British employees of a South Africa-based company and its partners celebrating construction of Bahrain’s World Trade Center.

Survivors have said the boat was swaying precariously even before it left the dock in Manama.

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