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Junta announces new constitution

Sun., Oct. 1, 2006

Thailand’s ruling military announced today an interim constitution that was to be followed by the naming of a prime minister to head the country for the next year.

The announcement was made on television stations after King Bhumibol Adulyadej endorsed the document.

The military abolished a 1997 constitution after seizing power from Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra in a bloodless coup Sept. 19. The new rulers say the previous constitution had too many “loopholes” that allowed Thaksin and his cronies to abuse power and engage in widespread corruption.

Col. Akara Thiprot, a spokesman for the ruling military council, said the new prime minister would be announced later today. It is widely believed to be former army commander Gen. Surayud Chulanont, a respected retired officer who has served as a close adviser to the constitutional monarch.

LAVAL, Quebec

Overpass collapses, crushing two cars

An overpass near Montreal collapsed Saturday, crushing two cars whose occupants were feared dead, authorities said. At least five people were injured.

Drivers on Highway 19 slammed on their brakes and watched in horror as the overpass slowly collapsed, sending cars plunging and crushing at least two vehicles. Quebec provincial police did not confirm any deaths but spokeswoman Chantal Mackels said police believed it was unlikely that anyone in the two crushed cars survived.

Emergency workers had not yet reached people trapped under the wreckage, said Andre Champagne of ambulance service Urgence-Sante. The workers were trying to secure the site before attending to those trapped, he told the Associated Press.

“We know minutes are precious,” Champagne said. “It takes a long time. These are heavy structures that have to be moved.”

BAIDOA, Somalia

Islamic fighters seize key village

Somalia’s Islamic fighters have seized control of a strategic village near the Ethiopian border, widening their grip over much of the southern part of the country, the group said Saturday.

Fighters loyal to the radical Union of Islamic Courts group routed a pro-government militia in the village of Jawill, some 10 miles from the Ethiopian border. The only roads between Ethiopia and central Somalia pass through the village.

“The militiamen who controlled this village had a good relationship with Ethiopia so we decided they were an obstacle to our control in the region,” said Hassan Abdirahman, whose fighters carried out the attack.

Ethiopia has been accused of deploying troops to support the virtually powerless Somali government, which only holds the town of Baidoa, about 150 miles from the capital Mogadishu. Analysts fear a regional conflict if Islamic militias and Ethiopian forces clash.

Ethiopia has denied having troops in Somalia.


Serbs reiterate claims on Kosovo

Serbia’s parliament approved a new constitution Saturday declaring U.N.-run Kosovo part of the Balkan state despite ongoing negotiations on the breakaway province’s future.

The hastily drafted constitution – agreed on after a few weeks of consultation – is designed to underscore Serbia’s opposition to possible independence for Kosovo as the result of the U.N.-brokered talks on the province’s future.

Kosovo formally is a province of Serbia. But Belgrade has had no authority over the separatist region since a 1999 NATO bombing forced it to end a crackdown against the ethnic Albanian rebels and pull out its forces.


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