Serbia’s pro-Western president won a closely contested election Sunday, edging an ally of late autocrat Slobodan Milosevic days before an expected declaration of independence by the breakaway Kosovo province.
President Boris Tadic won 51 percent of the vote, while Tomislav Nikolic, who ruled with Milosevic during the wars in the Balkans in the 1990s, had 47 percent, according to the state electoral commission.
“Serbia has shown its great democratic potential,” Tadic said in his victory speech, praising Nikolic for “the number of votes he has won.”
The outcome indicated that a majority of Serbians want the country to stay on its path of pro-Western reform and closer ties with the European Union, instead of reverting to the nationalism and isolation of the Milosevic era.
Rebels promise prisoner release
In its latest gesture to push for a high-profile prisoner swap, Colombia’s main leftist rebel army says it will free three ailing politicians it has held for more than six years.
In a communique, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, said the planned liberation springs from efforts by President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and “other friendly governments” to seek a solution to the country’s long-running conflict.
The FARC set no date for the promised liberation of Gloria Polanco, Luis Eladio Perez and Orlando Beltran – all Colombians – kidnapped in 2001.
Venezuela’s government welcomed the FARC’s announcement on Sunday, saying it shows the rebels “continue to be motivated to achieve a humanitarian accord” to swap rebel-held hostages for imprisoned guerrillas.
COLOMBO, Sri Lanka
Suicide bomber kills 11, wounds 92
A female suicide bomber attacked the main railway station in the Sri Lankan capital Sunday, killing at least 11 people and wounding 92 others, officials said.
Military spokesman Brig. Udaya Nanayakkara said the bomber got down from a train and then blew herself up.
Nanayakkara said 11 people were killed and 92 wounded in the attack, which he blamed on the separatist Tamil Tiger rebels.
The attacks took place as the government prepared to hold celebrations across much of the country today to mark the 60th anniversary of Sri Lanka’s independence from Britain.