April 23, 2007 in Nation/World

Opposition party calls for new vote

The Spokesman-Review

The ruling party’s hopes that a weekend election in Nigeria would be accepted as credible were dampened Sunday when local observers and the main opposition parties condemned what they said was vote-rigging and called for a repeat of the balloting.

The German presidency of the European Union issued a statement raising doubts on whether Saturday’s presidential and parliamentary elections were free and fair after EU observers expressed concern over irregularities.

One of the main presidential contenders, Vice President Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, said the balloting was a sham and called for the results to be quashed.

The elections were seen as a test of Nigeria’s development as a democracy, the first transfer from one civilian administration to another in a country ruled predominantly by the military since independence in 1960.

The voting was flawed by logistical problems, delays and violence in some areas, and followed state elections a week earlier that brought criticism from international and local observers.


Quake causes landslide, deaths

An earthquake in remote southern Chile shook free a landslide of rocks, sending them smashing into a narrow fjord and causing massive 25-foot waves that swept away 10 beachgoers. Three bodies were recovered Sunday.

Rescuers were searching the cold Pacific waters for the other missing people from the beach after the 6.2 magnitude quake the day before, authorities said.

Oscar Catalan, the mayor of the nearby town of Puerto Aysen, saw six people at the shore pulled away by the current, according to the Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

A correspondent for television network Chilevision, Orlando Adriazola, also reported seeing a man and his young daughter dragged into the water by a large wave.

The bureau said there was no tsunami after the earthquake. The waves were apparently created when several landslides from neighboring hills crashed into the sea at the bottom of the narrow fjord, causing the water level to rise steeply, said Juan Cayupi, a volcanologist investigating the incident for the government.


Iran OKs financing for power plant

Tehran agreed Sunday to a financing plan for the remaining construction of a nuclear power plant near Iran’s southern port of Bushehr, the state-run Russian company leading the project said.

Amid Iran’s defiance of international pressure to halt uranium enrichment activities, Russia earlier this year delayed the launch of the plant, which had been set for September, saying Tehran was behind schedule on payments.

Iranian officials denied any payment delays under the $1 billion contract and accused Russia of caving in to Western pressure. Moscow has cultivated close ties with Iran but has supported limited U.N. sanctions against Tehran recently.

The international community fears Iran could be seeking to develop nuclear weapons. Tehran insists its uranium enrichment is meant only for energy purposes.

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