Leaders in five opposition-controlled states proclaimed a general strike Tuesday, paralyzing a broad swath of this deeply divided Andean nation.
Clashes broke out in the eastern city of Santa Cruz, epicenter of the political opposition, where anti-government protesters fought with loyalists of leftist President Evo Morales. Police fired tear gas to disperse rival groups that exchanged fusillades of sticks and stones.
Schools, shops, airports and private vehicular traffic were largely shut down in five of Bolivia’s nine states, including Santa Cruz. The states are seeking bolstered autonomy and a greater share of royalties from the extraction of gas and petroleum, which are mostly drilled in regions controlled by the opposition. Pro-strike activists blocked roads.
The strike marks a new escalation of the political crisis that has divided the country into rival camps for and against Morales.
Coalition unstable amid resignation
The Pakistani ruling coalition showed signs of fracture Tuesday, only a day after embattled President Pervez Musharraf resigned to avoid impeachment, raising questions about how the coalition will tackle the major crises facing the South Asian nation.
The major sticking point for the fragile coalition is the same as it has been for months: Whether 41 senior judges fired by Musharraf when he declared emergency rule Nov. 3 should be reinstated and how they should be reinstated. After meeting for more than three hours about the judges Tuesday, former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his supporters abruptly left the house of coalition partner Asif Ali Zardari.
Sharif and his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz party, or PML-N, which won the second-largest number of votes in February largely because of campaigning to restore the judiciary, quit the Cabinet in May over the failure to reinstate the judges. The Pakistan People’s Party, or PPP, now run by Zardari, the husband of slain former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, won the most seats in the election but has said it is more interested in judicial independence than simply reinstating these particular judges.
Freed Glitter denied entry
Vietnam freed British glam rocker Gary Glitter from prison Tuesday, sending the convicted child molester into an uncertain future after nearly three years of confinement.
The 64-year-old Glitter arrived at Bangkok, Thailand’s international airport, but was refused entry into Thailand after he failed to board a flight to London, an official said today.
Glitter was confined to an airport transit lounge before being flown out of the country, police Maj. Gen. Phongdej Chaiprawat said, adding he did not known Glitter’s next destination.
The convicted child molester was deported from Vietnam on Tuesday and flew to Bangkok en route to England after serving almost three years of a prison sentence for committing obscene acts with children.
Miniskirt objection sparks outrage
A Catholic priest’s condemnation of miniskirts on an official church Web site is causing outrage among some Mexican women.
The Rev. Sergio G. Roman sounded the alarm against miniskirts in an online publication to prepare Catholics for a church family-values forum next year in Mexico City.
“When we show our body without prudence, without modesty, we are prostituting ourselves,” wrote Roman, a Mexico City priest.
Mexican newspaper columnists lampooned the article, and women’s rights advocates have assailed it.
Women dressed in miniskirts and low-cut shirts have rallied at the doors of Mexico City’s cathedral during Sunday Mass, carrying signs that read: “Clothed and naked, I am the same.”