April 3, 2008 in Nation/World

World in brief: Prime minister says he’ll resign

The Spokesman-Review
 
Associated Press photo

Bertie Ahern’s finances are under investigation by a government tribunal. Ahern will resign May 6. Associated Press
(Full-size photo)

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern, who helped bring peace to Northern Ireland but was dogged by investigations into his personal finances, said Wednesday that he would resign next month after 11 years in office.

Ahern, 56, announced his resignation at a Dublin news conference amid a government tribunal’s probe into whether he received improper cash payments from business executives in the mid-1990s.

In a sometimes emotional 11-minute address, Ahern denied wrongdoing. But he said the “incessant” attention on his finances had been a drain on his administration.

The second-longest-serving prime minister in Irish history, Ahern took office in 1997 amid a period of economic growth of Ireland. By 2006, the nation’s population topped 4 million for the first time since the mid-19th century.

Along with then-British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Ahern brought Northern Ireland’s bitterly divided Catholic and Protestant leaders together to sign the landmark 1998 Good Friday peace agreement.

Gualeguaychu, Argentina

Farmers end strike – for now

Argentine farmers Wednesday suspended a 21-day national strike over export taxes that had stripped store shelves of produce and meat.

The announcement gave President Cristina Fernandez at least a temporary reprieve in what has been the biggest crisis of her four-month-old administration.

But farmers warned they would renew the strike in a month if the government does not make serious concessions on the increase in soybean taxes from 35 percent to as much as 45 percent and on new duties for other farm exports. Both measures are aimed at curbing inflation.

“We have decided to allow the products to reach markets and the highway blockades are being lifted,” said Eduardo Buzzi, a hard-line leader of the Argentine Agrarian Federation.

Mexico City

Smoking ban goes into effect

In one of the world’s smoggiest cities, the air will soon be clear – at least inside.

A law banning smoking in virtually all public spaces in Mexico City – exceptions include parks, soccer stadiums and outdoor seating areas – goes into effect today.

Smokers who refuse to put out their cigarettes face fines ranging from $50 to $150 and 36 hours in jail.


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